Friday, June 30, 2006

another season crashes to an end

As promised, here are the Top 11 things that make Canadian Football sucky. I had to do a lot of research on this, and there were some things that didn't make the list, but it actually was kind of difficult to come up with 11 things. It was even harder to put them in the proper order.

I'm open to suggestions on improving the list, but here's my take.

  • 11. "Designated Imports". In the Canadian Football League, each team's roster must consist of 20 Canadians, 19 "imports" and 3 Quarterbacks. Why the quarterbacks have their own designation, I don't know. There are further requirements about the number of "imports" that have to be on the field at a given time. In substitution situations, whenever an "import" comes off the field, one must go on. I don't know.
  • 10. The "C" and the 54 yard line". The Canadian Football field is longer and wider than the American counterpart. 110 yards long, to be exact. That's fine, except that Canada is one of those funky places that uses the metric system. It would seem more metrically perfect for their field to be 100 yards long, like ours, instead of 110. The center of the field is marked with a "C", for centre. Of course it seems weird to us for there to be such a thing as a 54 yard line, but my objection is that 55 being the center doesn't make sense from a metric standpoint.
  • 9. Twelve men. Canadian Football allows 12 men on the field per team, whereas we allow 11. Their positions are a little different, accordingly. I don't like it. I think 11 men is a bit much, for the record.
  • 8. Punting on third down. In Canadian Football, you are allowed three downs to progress 10 yards, compared to four downs here. Sure, there's a familiararity thing about why punting on third down is strange. However, that system has a much smaller margin for error. An unsuccessful play on first down, and your back's already against the wall.
  • 7. Crowd noise. Canadian Football takes the home field advantage right out of the home field advantage. If a team cannot get a play off because of crowd noise, they can request a non-charged time out. They can do this up to three times per game, and the referee has the option to penalize the home team for excessive crowd noise. Bullshit.
  • 6. The "Rouge". A team is awarded one point if they punt, kickoff, or miss a field goal, the ball ends up in the end zone, and the defending team can't advance out of the endzone. There's no "taking a knee" -- you have to try to bring it out. A missed field goal is a live ball, and must be returned. There are some really complicated issues surrounding the allowance of an "open field free kick" in this situation, but I'd rather not get into that. As a history lesson, the reason it's called a "rouge" is that in the early days, instead of adding one point to the kicking team's score, one point was deducted from the defending team's score. Sometimes, a previously scoreless team would take a one-point deduction, putting them "in the red" at -1.
  • 5. League size. Currently there are 8 active teams in the Canadian Football League (plus one suspended team -- Ottawa Renegades). By all accounts, there hasn't really ever been more than nine teams. In the 1980's there was a brief experiment with expansion into the US, with the ultimate goal of 10 Canadian and 10 US teams, but that failed. I don't know. It just seems absurd to have a major professional sports league with just 8 teams. Winning the Grey Cup is quite a bit like winning the prize for "cutest left-handed 9-year old kid in the cul-de-sac". Not much competition.
  • 4. Montréal Alouettes. One of the most storied franchises in the CFL is also one of the most laughed at. They were founded in 1946, and did just fine until things started to get shaken up in the eighties. After struggling financially, the team folded and was immediately replaced by the Montréal Concordes. They played for three seasons, but struggled with brand recognition. In 1986, they were re-named the "New Alouettes". That only lasted one season, and on the day the 1987 season started, the team folded. Seven years later, the CFL expanded into the United States. One of those teams, the Baltimore Stallions, eventually relocated to Montréal. In 1996, the Alouettes were re-born. This is the third different team to call themselves the Montréal Alouettes. And we thought that Oakland/LA/Oakland Raiders thing was bad.
  • 3. Baltimore Stallions. As stated in #4, the CFL had a pipe dream of a League with 10 Canadian teams and 10 US teams. They ran into some trouble with the US franchises, because our existing stadiums cannot be configured to accommodate the length of the Canadian field. Not only is the playing field longer by 10 yards, but the end zones are also longer by 10 yards apiece, meaning there's an extra 30 yards needed. Some teams had to be creative with the end zones to make it happen. Baltimore was far and away the most successful of the "CFL USA" teams. They were in the Grey Cup two seasons in a row, losing in 1994 and winning in 1995. The "American Experiment" ended a few years later, and Baltimore will always live in infamy as the American team to win the Canadian game.
  • 2. Rough Riders / Roughriders. One word, or two. This is the same damn name. For a long time, the 8-team CFL had TWO teams named the Rough Riders. So amazingly unimaginative. A long time ago, my friend Neil suggested that the only reason there isn't a professional kickball league is that every team would want to be called the "Kickers". Tonight, it's the Phoenix Kickers against the Jacksonville Kickers. Plenty of good seats available! Anyway, the (and I have to keep emphasizing this) 8-team league had only six teams that were NOT named "rough riders". There was (and still is) the Saskatchewan Roughriders (one word), and the now defunct Ottawa Rough Riders (two words). On four occasions, the two teams met for the Grey Cup. Ottawa has won three of those matchups.
  • 1. Drafting dead guys. Either the CFL has a really liberal policy on allowing players to be draft eligible, or the General Managers of certain Canadian clubs are morons. Two times in the history of the Canadian Football League, a deceased person was actually drafted. Not surprisingly, both gaffes were by teams I've already called out. In 1995, the Ottawa Rough Riders drafted defensive end Derrell Robertson, only to find out that he had died in a car crash five months previous. The next draft, the Montréal Alouettes were surprised to see defensive end James Eggink still available in the fifth round. They selected him, but found out a few hours later that he had lost his battle with cancer four months previous.

There are lots of other reasons, and I concede that some of these are nit-picky, but that's all I have for today.

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Scott said...

OK, I haven't checked my facts, but I'm guessing that it's because they're on the metric system that the field can't be 100 yds (a yard not being metric). Isn't their field length 100 meters, which is the equivalent of 110 yards? Do they mark the lines on the field in increments of yards or meters?

I do know that the Baltimore team was originally named the Colts (which was hugely popular with the fans), before an ugly lawsuit from the NFL led to the team being renamed the Stallions. Then we got the Ravens, and didn't need a CFL team any more.

Bill Purdy said...

From the Wikipedia, here are the relevant dimensions in Canadian Football:

"...a field of play 110 yards (100.6 m) long and 65 yards (59.4 m) wide, with end zones 20 yards (18.3 m) deep." And, whereas our centerfield line is the 50 yard line, theirs is the 55, meaning they have two 50-yard lines in Canadian football.

So, in football at least, Canadians do occasionally abandon their affinity for the metric system.