Football, but not as we know it. This is Canadian style.
Sometimes this blog can feel more like a sports blog, and so here we are again, reviewing yet another sport, and one which to the untrained eye looks a lot like American football.
However, this isn’t American football, this is Canadian football, and is as equally alien to Brits who are used to sport where a football is predominately kicked not handled.
Putting aside my preconception that American/Canadian football is for wusses who wear tights and can’t handle rugby and its lack of helmets and body armour, we headed down to the Rogers Centre with an open mind to see the Toronto Argonauts (‘Argos’*) take on local rivals the Hamilton Tiger-Cats (‘Ticats’).
To help us understand what the hell was going on, we took along our friend Jay, who as a massive American football fan, would hopefully know the basics of its Canadian cousin.
The two sports are broadly similar. The attacking team has three plays in which to make at least 10 yards (or score a touchdown or field goal). Failure to do so, or turn over of the ball in play, results in the defending team seizing possession and taking its turn to go on the attack. The quarterback, just like in American football, plays the pivotal role in ensuring that the ball makes those 10 yards.
With this new found knowledge, I settled into watching the game, and enjoyed observing the attacking teams in their efforts to inch (or that should that be ‘yard’?) up the playing field.
However, after the first quarter, I started to become a little tired of the constant stoppages in play and what felt like the repetitive nature of the play.
Our attention soon got captured by watching a girl a couple of rows in front of us swipe through, and dismiss, potential matches on Tinder, and by a man to our left taking pervy photos of the cheerleaders!
Meanwhile, whilst that was all going on off the pitch, on the pitch the Ticats never relinquished their lead and triumphed 35-27.
Nevertheless, we still enjoyed the whole experience. The crowds, players and whole spectacle may be on a much smaller scale compared to American football’s massive NFL show, but if American football is your thing, and you can’t make it to a game, then Canadian football will still give you a strong flavour of what watching American football in the flesh is like.
But one very serious point to wrap up. The Canadians and Americans call it ‘football’. How is this accurate when they kicked the ball all of about 5 times during the game and the foot is not the predominant body part by which the ball is controlled!?
*For any Brits wondering, ‘Argos’ is pronounced ‘Ar-goes’, and not like the British catalogue retailer, Argos!