It is simply a fluke of the schedule. But it tells us everything that I, or anyone else who is interested in such matters, needs to know.
It’s Sunday morning. I do not love football, but I watch it. (In California, East Coast games begin at ten A.M.) The games are on against Meet The Press, and I, and perhaps all of America, would rather immerse themselves in a meaningless game than watch the world going up in flames. It’s just human nature. “Football” or “The Middle East in flames.” I’ll take football.
So I check around the channels, and I discover that there is an NFL game on Fox and another NFL game on CBS. And then, I notice as I “channel surf”, that on ESPN, they are broadcasting a Canadian Football League game:
The Hamilton Tiger Cats versus the Montreal Alouettes.
The question is,
What am I going to watch?
This is not entirely a “patriotism” (or, more accurately, an ex-patriotism) issue. And if the (my home team) Toronto Argonauts were playing, it would be no contest. I would definitely watch the Argos.
My selection process today is a matter of principle, honor and personal integrity.
Why do I say that? Because I am on record as proclaiming (in this blog, and in the Huffingtonpost, where the post was reprinted) that, as a game,
Canadian football is better than American football.
There is no argument about this in my mind; it just is. (There is also no argument from the side that believes that American football is better than Canadian football, because the American football enthusiasts believe I’m an idiot.)
Here is my argument, plain and simple.
If the measure of the superiority of a sport (or, in this case, version of a sport) involves which provides the potential for more exciting on-field action, as a result of the variations in the rules, Canadian football is indisputably the better game.
The Canadian football field is longer (one hundred and ten yards versus the National Football League’s one hundred) and wider (65 yards versus 53 and a third; I have done my homework this time.) An expanded field size allows for more maneuverability, leading to more wide-open and therefore more exciting playmaking.
The End Zone in Canadian football is deeper (20 yards – I think is used to be twenty-five – versus ten yards), affording more room for downfield passing when the offensive team reaches in the “Red Zone” (within twenty yards of the opponents’ goal line.) This expanded playing area permits a greater variety of “Red Zone” play calling, less predictability, producing – once again – more excitement in the game.
Canadian football requires you to obtain a “First Down” (by advancing the ball ten yards) in three plays rather than the NFL’s four plays. This dictates that, in Canadian football, you have to gain more yards per play – meaning, no tedious “two yard plunges” – resulting in more risk-taking on every play, and once again, though you may already tired of hearing about it,
That’s three “more excitements.” And I haven’t even gotten to the “Rouge” yet.
(The “Rouge” being one of the most exciting plays in Canadian football.)
In American football, when the kicker (punter or kickoff specialist) kicks the ball into the opposing team’s End Zone, the opposing team’s receiver has the option of not running the ball out. This is called a “Touchback”, in which the ball is then placed on the receiving team’s 20 yard-line, and they take over on offence from there.
By contrast – get this! –
In Canadian football, when the ball is kicked into the opposing team’s End Zone, the receiver is required to run the ball out! If he is tackled before he does so, it’s a “Rouge”, and the punting team is awarded one point.
What’s more exciting – a “Touchback”, or you are required to run the ball out?
Not to mention that the one-point “Rouge” decreases the chances of an ultimate “Regulation Time” tie, a situation football has never satisfactorily resolved. (So there! Two clear advantages from one rule difference.)
Also, in the context of punting, Canadian football has no “Fair Catch” rule, and the NFL does. In a “Fair Catch”, a punt receiver, realizing he has no chance of moving the ball forward after he catches it, is permitted to simply wave his hand in the air, surrendering his possibility of advancing the ball in exchange for not being tackled in the process of making the catch. (Or else there’s a 15-yard penalty.)
In Canadian football, there is no “Fair Catch.” The receiver is required to run back every punt.
Waving your hand in the air? Or a received punt followed by a potentially thrilling punt return (or the bone-crushing tackle of the punt returner)? (It is true that the Canadian punt returner is allotted a five-yard “non-encroachment” area in which to catch the ball. But in practical terms, that just allows the downfield tacklers a five-yard launching pad to build up a highly destructive head of steam.)
Be honest. Is there any comparison at all between those two?
Sometimes in the (American) NFL, if the punt receiver is within ten yards or so of his own goal line, he will not catch the ball at all, but will instead allow it to dribble into the End Zone for a “Touchback”, so that his team can start out on the twenty, instead of, potentially, a number of yards further back.
That’s an exciting play, isn’t it? (He observed sarcastically.) Watching the ball dribble into the End Zone?
(Note: And let us not forget the most exciting Canadian football play of them all – when, near the end of the game, the receiver takes the punt in the End Zone and, to avoid the “Rouge”, he kicks the ball back out! At which point, the punter corrals the football, and he kicks it back in!” And away they go! He kicks in in, they kick it back, he kicks it in, they kick it back! I’m getting chills just writing about it!)
Final Point: “Movement before the snap.”
In the NFL, only one player can be in motion, and then he too must come into in a “set” position before the snap. In Canadian football, both the running backs and the wide receivers can be in motion in any direction, as long as they do not cross the line of scrimmage before the snap.
The ability for players to start in motion – especially in a forward direction – allows the receivers a faster start entering their downfield pass routes, creating an opportunity for longer passes in the same amount of time after the snap, providing, you guessed it,
More excitement on the field.
Okay, so those are the self-evident advantages of Canadian football, and there is a Ti-Cats-Alouettes game being broadcast on ESPN.
So, naturally, I watch it.
Then there’s a commercial. So I switch over to the NFL game.
And virtually the moment I do, I witness this play:
The ball is hiked. The wide receiver on the left runs about twenty yards downfield, and then angles towards the sidelines. There are two defenders on him, one, couple of yards in front of him, the second, a virtual equal distance behind.
The quarterback then loops a perfectly-timed, forward pass, that floats over the wide receiver’s shoulder between the two opposing defenders, and drops directly into his hands, the wide receiver never breaking stride for a moment but simply catching the impeccably thrown ball, and running it safely out of bounds.
I do not go back to watching Canadian football.
I know. I’m a hypocrite. And a bit of a turncoat, eh?
Bottom Line: Canadian football is unequivocally the better game.
But American football…
How the heck did he do that?