Professional football is weaponless war for entertainment.
And I love it.
I’ve been recently reminded how much the United States and Canada loves its not-so-aptly-titled sport.
In case you don’t know anyone in a fantasy league this year, the National Football League (NFL) started almost a week ago. The number of crimes players have been arrested for, or charged with, since the end of the last season stops at 37.
We have already made it through a Sunday of 13 games.
There were actually 15 football games that day. Two of them were Canadian Football League contests.
If the Roughriders are playing on a Sunday, televisions in Saskatchewan will be set to the game. No question.
But at the Boston Pizza South location in Moose Jaw, only one of the many TVs in the lounge was set to the awful 25-13 defeat of the Riders in the Banjo Bowl.
The Riders are Saskatchewan’s only professional sports team in a major league. The CFL is our own football league, and yet, NFL Sunday still dominated. Even over the community-owned Saskatchewan Roughriders.
I can’t blame Boston Pizza’s employees: The NFL is the flashiest league on the planet.
Its 32 teams combined are worth nearly $40 billion. It generates nearly $10 billion profit a year.
The NFL is a machine. Much like its players. NFL football is the best sport to watch on television because of innovative camera placements and a constant barrage of statistics and comparisons.
It’s exciting. Especially now, if you can watch the incredible skill these athletes possess in throwing, catching and hitting. Really hard hitting. Which at least one team was paying its players to do.
There are hits in the CFL. This isn’t a touch football league. It’s good football — for the most part. There are great players and coaches.
CFL games are also broadcast. There are no overhead cameras strung across the field on wires letting you see the play from just above the quarterback’s head.
When I’m watching the CFL, I don’t care about flash.
I prefer three downs over four down football. Even though the CFL’s out-of-bounds catch rule (only one foot has to be inbounds, compared to the NFL’s both-feet-in rule) and uprights for field goals at the front of the end zone might make the game easier, I argue it makes it exciting. And a 20-second stop clock is much better than 40.
But it’s definitely not perfect.
There was arresting drama in the CFL off-season too. The media discovered during Riders training camp that current league leading rusher Kory Sheets was arrested for assaulting a woman.
I don’t have cable so I’ve been live streaming games on my laptop. The quality is mostly garbage. I don’t care.
I watched two young quarterbacks for the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes engage in a rematch of their Labour Day weekend battle. That game had no impact on the Riders at all. But I liked the storyline and it had plenty of exciting moments. And it’s nice to see teams in the East struggle a little bit.
The CFL has had plenty of slogans reminding the public that This Is Our League. My favourite was Our Balls Are Bigger. That should still be on T-shirts. But size of footballs aside, it’s a league with nearly 50 per cent Canadian talent.
It’s bizarre and special. Football itself is a masculine phenomenon. It’s embedded into entertainment and advertisement that men go insane over football.
The CFL, without any opening songs/montages about how it’s Monday night and you’re about to watch some football, is more accessible, less obnoxious and more rewarding to follow.
CFL fantasy league next year, anyone?
Austin Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @the AustinX.