With the CIS football regular season coming to a close, the CFL, NFL and NCAA in full swing, I felt it might be a good time to defend our version of one of North America’s most popular games.

Depending on which side of the 49th parallel you reside, football can take completely different forms. On the surface, the games seem similar and to the untrained (or apathetic) eye, the games are not that different at all. The premise is the same: score more touchdowns than the other team and you will undoubtedly win the game. That being said, the games are no more similar than Republicans and Democrats.

For starters, the game to the south is played with four downs (plays) to gain increments of 10 yards moving up the field, the field is 100 yards in length from goal line to goal line and about 53 yards wide.  The football itself measures 11 inches from tip to tip, 22 inches around at the centre and weighs about 14-15 ounces. The American game puts 11 players on the field and they have 40 seconds to put together an offensive play from the finish of the previous play.

By contrast, the Canadian game is played with three downs (plays) to gain the same 10 yards, the field is 110 yards in length and measures about 65 yards wide. The Canadian football, one of the more notable differences, is larger; measuring the same length of about 11 inches, however, the circumference is much larger at about 28 inches, weighing 15 ounces.  There are 12 players on the field and each team has only 20 seconds to start a new offensive play.

Evidently there is a difference between the two games. At face value, these numbers would dictate that the Canadian game is faster paced, open and back and forth; this is true.

I write this for those of you who turn your nose up at the prospect of watching a CFL game in favor of three-yard runs and terrific beer commercials. I’m aware that the spectacle of five-hour coverage and 65,000 seat stadiums make it hard to turn to the more modest game to the north. However, the NFL is quickly moving away from the heart of the sport. A hard hit can produce a fine and the long list of teams that do not have a shot at the title every year is larger than the entire CFL, which consists of only eight teams (compared to the NFL’s 32). Based on entertainment value, it depends what you want. Flashy graphics, superstar endorsements and alumni with fake tans calling the games can be fun to watch. However, if it is about football for you, like it is for me, the CFL consists of big plays (out of necessity) and exciting competition. Going into a CFL season, everyone has a chance.

The difference trickles down to the CIS level as well. For those of you who are counting down till Sunday for your dose of the gridiron, I make my appeal to you to look just a little bit closer, for the CIS playoffs on Saturday and even Wendy’s Friday Night Football (CFL). I promise you will not be disappointed. Just give it a chance.

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