As I wrote in an August Word Wednesday Post, I love the Olympic and Paralympic games. I love the way entire countries rise up behind their athletes and how small acts of kindness between athletes make you realize that even in the heat of competition, people are inclined to help one another. One of the things that drives me absolutely crazy about the Paralympic games though is the way they’re treated in the media and by the general public. During the Olympics, I couldn’t log on to Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook without seeing #Olympics or #Canada or one of the Olympic filters on a profile picture. During the Paralympics, however, I have had to actively look to find people mentioning the games. I understand that there is some degree of “sports fatigue” – in that a lot of people who aren’t necessarily into sports watch the Olympics but aren’t actually all that interested beyond their favourite sports. The 2 week wait between the Olympics end and the Paralympics begin also plays a role in diminished media attention and public appetite. What I vehemently disagree with is that the Paralympic games are in any way or shape less important than the Olympic games. Paralympians are elite athletes – period. If you think that just because someone is physically disabled, they aren’t training just as hard or just as athletically gifted as an able bodied athlete, I challenge you to go to the Canadian Paralympic Team’s Paratough website and try one of the Paralympian workouts. I tried the swimming core workout 4 days ago, and my abs haven’t forgiven me yet!
It’s really no secret that I’m a huge fan of the Olympics and the Paralympics. I’m a huge fan of sport in general and think that the Olympics can bring out the best in athletes, and enjoy watching athletes who aren’t making millions of dollars for their sport compete. Not that I don’t love professional sports, especially the CFL, but it’s nice to watch people who are doing sport for the love of it (and maybe for a lucrative endorsement contract). [Read more…]
Tonight is the end of an era, albeit one that many Toronto sports fans (particularly CFL fans) have struggled with over the last 27 years. Tonight the Toronto Argonauts play their last game at the Rogers Centre (formerly – and forever to me – known as SkyDome). I was at the first game at SkyDome on July 12, 1989, and I will be there tonight at the last game. In between those dates I’ve seen around 70% of the Canadian football games played there (including Vanier Cups and Metro Bowl finals but not including the Bills in Toronto series or the NCAA games). I’ve been feeling nostalgic today and reading some of the articles about the best memories at SkyDome including this one by the very talented Andrew Bucholtz, Mike Hogan’s trip down memory lane, and this one from the Toronto Star that focuses on Michael “Pinball” Clemons’ memories of the stadium where he played his entire CFL career and still calls home as Vice Chairman of the Argos.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a complete and total football junkie and have been since I was a toddler. I’m also an avid reader and quite enjoy the genre known as “chick lit”. One of my favourite writers in this genre has been Emily Giffin . I find her work engaging and fun to read with characters I can relate to. Given this, imagine my glee when I found out that Giffin’s latest book, The One & Only, was going to feature a female football reporter as the protagonist. I may have squealed. Loudly. Then I made an almost fatal mistake – I crowd sourced. I often hit up Goodreads when I find a book I like just to see what others have thought about it. I saw a lot of negative Nellies complaining about the book making generalizations about women who love football always being in it for a guy, that there was too much football (no such thing imho) and not enough plot, or that the characters weren’t relatable. I hate feeling disappointed or let down by an author I love so I put the book aside for a few days to think about whether or not I wanted to read it. I took it up to the cottage with me because I’m always running out of books to read (especially when the weather is as dismal as it was this summer, rainy and cold for most of my vacation) and I’m really glad I did. Had I not read the book based on those few Goodreads users who really disliked the book, I would have missed out on one of my favourite books so far this year.
Recently I’ve had a number of conversations on twitter and out in the real world about the CFL and how it’s seen to be bush league or second tier. First off, if you were one of the people with whom i had those conversations, I’m sorry. I must have seemed like a zealot. The fact is I love 3 down football. Always have. Maybe because i was exposed to it years before the 4 down version. I know I that I live and breathe Canadian Football. I’m sure the nice people at Toshiba were sick of me by the end of the She’s Connected conference. While most of the other women there were worried about which apps were available for their kids, I kept asking about football apps. (In case you’re wondering, I want an app that lets me create and run plays against multiple defensive schemes and – most important of all – allows the right number of players on the field).
Yep. I’m addicted to football. I enjoy NCAA and NFL football too (Michigan State Spartans and Detroit Lions!) but given my druthers, I’d much rather watch 3 down football. It’s not just the speed of the game (though on average it takes 45 minutes less to play a CFL game than an NFL game – and I’d argue that only about 20 minutes of this is commercial and the slightly (2 mins) longer halftime (again due to commercial breaks)) it’s the character. I like the 20 second play clock because it keeps the game moving. 40 seconds feels like an eternity to me and i find myself yelling at the TV during NFL games for the Quarterbacks to “Hurry up”.
I take issue with people who call the CFL second rate. It’s not a second rate league in anything except the TV revenue. In fact, until the late 1970s NFL players came up to the CFL because they could make more money! People such as Cam Wake who have played in both leagues have said that the NFL isn’t a tougher league, just different. In fact, in an interview with ESPN 760, Cam Wake said that the rules made the CFL tougher to play in as an outside linebacker.
He’s right – and the changes don’t just make it harder for the Defence either. The wider field has been known to give NCAA Quarterbacks, even those who have won a Heisman Trophy fits. Wide receivers can have problems adjusting their routes to the wider field. The extra 10 yards in field length makes running a kickoff back for a touchdown that much harder.
Then there’s my favourite difference between the CFL and the NFL – the 3 downs. Having 3 downs means that you actually have 2 real attempts to get the ball 10 yards. This means that running (which typically averages 3-4 yards a carry) won’t get you a first down. So there are more pass attempts in the CFL. Take Sunday’s Eastern Semi-Final as an example and compare it to one of the NFL games on at the same time. The LOSING Quarterback in the Eastern Semi-Final completed 30 of 42 pass attempts for 513 yards. AND HE LOST THE GAME. In contrast, Tim Tebow, the quarterback for the Denver Broncos, DID NOT MAKE A PASS ATTEMPT IN THE FIRST HALF. At the end of the game he was 2 for 8 for 69 yards. You just can’t do that in the CFL. You have to have a good passing game as well as a running game to mix things up or you’ll be eaten alive. (Note the troubles that both the Argos and the Riders had this year as an example – though you *can* win in the CFL without a solid passing game, it’s much harder and usually at least partly dependent on special teams).
The Rouge. Oh the Rouge. I love the Rouge (and not just because I’m on RougeRadio.com). I have had to explain the Rouge until I’m literally red in the face. It’s not a reward for missing a Field goal. It’s a reward for preventing the other team from running it out. If it was simply a reward for failure, it wouldn’t be awarded on a punt.
No Lead is Safe – this is the CFL’s most recent ad campaign. It’s very true. Very few games are complete blowouts with no chance for redemption. In the final week of the regular season, I stayed up really late to watch Montreal at BC. Even though BC had a decent lead at the half, I didn’t want to go to bed because I have witnessed Anthony Calvillo put up insane numbers in one half, so I couldn’t trust that it wouldn’t happen. It didn’t but overall, it seems that the last 4-5 minutes of a CFL game end up having more weird and wacky endings than the NFL ones. (the one thing that drives me nuts with the NFL play clock is that with 1:30 on the clock, and a fresh set of downs, the QB can take a knee and the game’s done. You’d have to get at least a 1st down in the CFL.
Finally, I love the CFL because Our Balls are Bigger. It’s not just a slogan. It’s true. I even have the T-Shirt.