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I am on the plane again, getting back from a week in Boston, where I
It was interesting to see the Canadian game again, after many years of nothing but American football. It's much more of a big-play game -- the field is ten yards longer, ten or fifteen wider, the end zones are twenty or twenty-five yards deep, and there's only one extra player on the field to cover all this space. At the same time, you get only three downs, not four, which means drives either charge forward quickly or not at all. I like the rhythm -- at least, I like it when teams are playing well, like they were this weekend.
That, and I get a nostalgic kick out of hearing penalty calls like "illegal procedure" (ie, offensive offside) and "no yards" (failure to give the punt receiver room to catch the ball -- there's no wussy "fair catch" rule in Canadian football).
The CFL seems to be doing better these days. The weird story is that just maybe a U2 concert saved Canadian football. A couple of years ago, after the Alouettes first returned to Montreal, they made the playoffs, and somehow failed to have reserved Olympic Stadium for the date of the game: U2 was playing. So instead they moved up the hill and played the game in the open air on top of Mount Royal in the McGill university stadium -- and so instead of playing to a crowd of maybe 15,000 in a cavernously half-empty arena, they played to 12,000 in a sold-out, jam-packed one. They haven't gone back to Olympic Stadium since, and Montreal has gone from being the sick man of Canadian football to the best venue in the league, and now Toronto and Vancouver are considering similar moves. Funny how things change.
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