Friday, July 29, 2005

IN A FOOTBALL MOOD


Everyone is going nuts on TV and radio about the NHL Draft tomorrow, and I'll definitely tune it, but frankly I'm in a football mood. Maybe it's because I've been reading Drew Rosenhaus' book on the sports agent business lately and have basically been missing the NFL, and also college football. During the football season I'd turn on the radio and listen to these college games from the deep South on these 50,000 watt radio stations, from places like Tennessee, and Louisiana, and the Carolinas. I can't wait for them to get back to playing for real.

For now, I'll have to be content to follow the CFL. Tonight the team I root for, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, are going to be in action again against Ottawa. Hopefully they will win.

I am a huge, mad football fan and the reason why has a lot to do with geography. I grew up in Saskatchewan, and Saskatchewan is football country. It's also hockey country, but one of the reasons football is so big in western Canada is because for so many years the football teams were the only big pro sports teams there. Westerners did not have the NHL to go to, but they did have the CFL. So as a result football was a big deal and that's why in places like Calgary and Edmonton and Winnipeg you have such enthusiasm for CFL football.

In Ontario I've found it a lot different. Fans here in Ontario are blase about the CFL and about football. It's so obvious in Toronto that hockey is the number one sport; or check that, the LEAFS are the number one sport. When hockey season ends, everyone is miserable because it's not hockey season. You get the impression that people here think all the other sports are somehow second-rate. You don't find this attitude out West at all. People there love football and look forward to football season, because they think it's a great sport in its own right. Not like it's a summer "replacement" to the NHL or something like that.

The other thing that is a factor here is the proximity to the NFL in Buffalo. The cool thing for Torontonians to do if they want to see a football game is to hop on the bus to ride off to Orchard Park to watch the Bills. Vancouver has a similar problem with people hopping on buses to take in the Seahawks, but there's still more CFL fans there. I'd say there are tons of NFL fans in Toronto and fewer CFL fans, but the CFL fans here are loud and vocal about how much they love the CFL. They scream about how much better the CFL is and how it's more wide-open and so on and so forth.

Me, I'm just don't care about debating the merits of the CFL versus the NFL. For me I just care about watching football. If it's on I'll watch it, doesn't matter whether it's CFL or NFL. I've gone to countless CFL games all over Canada and will watch the games on TV, and on the radio. The way I look at the CFL is this: it may not be the NFL, but it's still big-time football. It's Canada's major football league. Living in Saskatchewan and following the 'Riders is similar to living in Nebraska or Iowa or somewhere like that, and following the big college teams there. Those aren't NFL areas, either, but you can't tell me the Iowa Hawkeyes aren't a big deal in Iowa. I think life in Iowa or Nebraska or Oklahoma is pretty similar to life in Saskatchewan, because all that people care about is football. (As for life in Texas, well, see Alberta.)

So that's my stance on football. I think I'm going to have to take in a game live, again. And I can't wait for college football to come back, and especially for the NFL season to get started again so I can watch the games on Sunday afternoons.

Watching NASCAR races on Sundays is great, but I want to see more football again.
(UPDATE: Added a picture of a hot Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. I think she's cute! )

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