What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Here in America, football season is just under two months away; whereas north of the border, the Canadian Football League (CFL) season starts this weekend. What the average American fan knows about the CFL likely rivals what he knows about the dark side of the moon, because until this year, getting CFL coverage in the United States might as well have been as arduous as a lunar spaceflight.
However, thanks to a new deal between the World Wide Bottom Feeder and the CFL, the average American cable subscriber can see roughly one game per week (with gaps skipping some weeks in coverage) if they have ESPN2 or ESPNEWS. ESPN subscribers can also see all regular and post-season CFL games on ESPN3, the network dedicated solely to computers and mobile devices. Now, I’m not going to get into how it seems the World Wide Bottom Feeder might have learned something from he NBC Sports Network which made all the English Premier League matches available on-line; rather this is going to be about how Americans should take advantage of this new-found access and embrace the entirety of the CFL all the way from Newfoundland to the Yukon.
To that end, here’s six things about the CFL unknown to the average NFL fan…which also happen to be six reasons why right now, the CFL produces a better product than the NFL.
1) The CFL Is Honest
Specifically, the CFL honestly embraced the whole “more offense” thing. That means instead of making a bunch of muddy rules about what is and isn’t pass interference, they made a way to open up the game without putting it in the hands of dimwit referees. The Canadian game is designed to produce quick-paced offenses by only allowing three downs, 25-yard deep end zones to eliminate the “goal line” defense, plus they made the field longer, wider, and added an extra player. There’s no “fair catch” in the CFL, and downing a kick in your own end-zone will get you a touchback, but it will also cost you a point (known as a “rouge”).
2) The CFL Learned Their Lesson About International Expansion
The NFL still has fantasies about putting franchises in foreign countries. That’s never going to happen for a host of reasons I’ve already discussed. You can say the same thing about Mexico, and for many of the same reasons. What it comes down to is American football only works in America, and Canadian football only works in Canada.
Back in the early 1990’s the CFL was in some serious financial difficulty, and there was a short-lived attempt to tap into ta new revenue stream by expanding into the U. S. With the sole exception of the Baltimore franchise, this was a dismal failure. The league learned from that catastrophe, and while there have been rumors of another southward move, they are never more than internet clap-trap with no basis in reality.
3) The CFL Isn’t Constantly Relocating Franchises
To be fair, Canada is a country of roughly 35 million, which means it doesn’t have a plethora of metropolitan areas with which it can play franchise musical chairs. To be even more fair, there have been cities who have had teams fold, only to have new franchises rise in their stead. In other words, the CFL has a staunchly regionally-based architecture for it’s fan bases. If for some reason the Saskatchewan Roughriders folded tomorrow, their fans aren’t going to become Calgary Stampeder or Winnipeg Blue Bomber fans anytime soon.
In contrast, the NFL has a “relocation-gasm” about every ten years. In the 80’s, the Colts bolted Baltimore for Indianapolis, the Cardinals flew from St. Louis to Phoenix, and the Raiders traded Oakland for Los Angeles. In the 90’s, the Oilers slid into Tennessee, the Browns bartered Cleveland for Baltimore, and the Raiders saved their receipt and returned Los Angeles for another stint Oakland. Since then, the NFL has been talking about the Jaguars going to London, the Bills heading for Toronto, and the reality of the Rams ramming it to St. Louis for a Raider-like return to southern California. Oh, and don’t forget about the Chargers, either.
Speaking of the Raiders, all this frachise “shell-gaming” doesn’t even take yet another Raider move into account; this time for Las Vegas…where you can bet the CFL already understood it’s failure.
4) The CFL Isn’t A League Run By Lawyers
Just look at the NFL and it’s rules. There is nothing…NOTHING…which says “run by lawyers” more than the fact the NFL can’t figure out what a “catch” is. Sixth-graders playing two-hand touch in a park can figure it out; a multi-billion dollar enterprise with all the technology imaginable hasn’t the first clue. Not only has the NFL fucked it’s whole on-field product up with a “perfect storm” of silly rules, blatantly incompetent officials, and a super-sillious use of instant replay, but it does really stupid shit like launch deflated-ball pogroms against arguably it’s biggest star on arguably it’s flagship franchise.
That kind of twisted cannibalism only comes from the mind of lawyers; a special group of parasites who care less about “right and wrong” and the “big picture” and are more interested in winning whichever “grain of sand” moment is currently in front of them. That’s the mind-set behind why calls in the NFL require multiple levels of review (the call on the field, the instant replay review, and the league office looking for fine money even when nobody called a penalty).
5) The CFL Is Actually Trying To Deal With Bad Officiating
In short, the CFL doesn’t use replay to find nuances and “process of the catch” nonsense. The idea is simple. Rather than chasing the NFL’s exceptionally stupid standard of “perfection:” meaning never getting any call wrong…which of course is impossible…the CFL focuses on “the common-sense factor.” The CFL’s goal is to eliminate the obvious mistakes that the NFL propagates. There’s no “catch/not a catch” crap in the CFL. There’s no 50-yard pass interference penalties on subtle jersey tugs discovered only through four and a half minutes of video review.
Granted, the CFL system is far from perfect, and using replay still doesn’t address the root cause as I’ve addressed before in all sports, but at least they aren’t making things unwatchably worse like their neighbors to the south. One of the major reasons is that CFL has the guts to do something the NFL never would; admit something is wrong and tweak it mid-season if needed. They’ve done it before.
6) The CFL Embraces It’s Fans
Let’s be honest…you have to embrace dudes in kilts pounding ice-cold beer in sub-zero weather. That’s why as As part of #5, the CFL asked for fan input. That’s in stark contrast to the NFL. The CFL welcomes the fan opinion; understanding that those fans are the ones who pay the freight. Meanwhile, the NFL, led by elitist assholes like Kommissar Goodell who believe it was the fan’s fault for not understanding that “process of the catch” horseshit.
Beyond that, can you imagine the NFL having a week-long celebration of its fans in the midst of the off-season in the league’s smallest market? Think about it…a celebration of “Super Bowl” week proportions, but not leading up to a major event. It’s not about ginning up attendance for something, it’s not about creating a bunch of media hype…it’s 100% about the fans and showing them appreciation for being the people who foot the bill for professional football.
In America, that will never happen as long as the NFL’s business decisions are made by Kommissar Goodell. In Canada, that just happened.
The Canadian Football League is the religion of choice in Saskatchewan and so it made perfect sense to hold the first ever CFL Week in the city of Regina. The Roughriders have one of the league’s largest and most rabid fan bases – they’d bristle at the suggestion that there’s even a debate – and it was reasonable to expect they’d be not only receptive, but welcoming.
Rider Nation didn’t disappoint. Crowds flocked to the Evraz Place, the one-stop-shopping location for everything related to CFL Week. They packed autograph sessions, embraced fan events and filled up the benches at the combine, cheering hometown kids and applauding good performances – changing the dynamic of what can sometimes be a mundane series of testing events.
Sure, you can try to nay-say by pointing out CFL week was built around the draft combine, but that’s actually what makes the contrast with the NFL. I live in Indiana, I’ve seen first-hand what the NFL combine in Indianapolis looks like. It’s the textbook definition a media circus, and it really only exists to give the NFL Network a few days of cheap programming and gives the league’s scouts a reason to put objective numbers behind their subjective scouting reports. NFL fans won’t find a street festival, they won’t find areas dedicated to player and coaches interacting with them; what the NFL fan will find in Indianapolis in March is the league will let them win a lottery to sit in an empty football stadium to watch guys working out in their underwear.
In other words, if you want to watch a professional football league that puts an entertaining product on the field and gives a shit about it’s fans, then grab a six-pack of Moosehead Beer, point your satellite dish to the north, and get used to punting on 3rd down.