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Today's Tidbit... Canadian Football Is Open For Business
Today's Tidbit is published early as a public service to those who do not regularly watch the CFL but should. It is a wide-open game featuring five wide receivers, though that did not stop Montreal and Ottawa from playing to a 22-21 score last night in a game featuring ten made field goals.
Like football below the border, Canadian football evolved from a game played in tighter quarters with four running backs and two tight ends. Now, the ball is flung all over the place.
They have the same types and point values for scoring plays as the U.S., plus they have the single or rouge, scored when a kicked ball goes out of the end zone, is not run, or is not return kicked out of the end zone. (Tomorrow’s Tidbit will cover the return kick that was once part of American football.)
As most everyone knows, the Northerners only have three downs to gain ten yards, a rule they borrowed from American football before we shifted from three downs to four in 1912.
While much of the game is familiar to American eyes, one of the appealing differences applies to punt coverage in that fair catches are not allowed, and the coverage team cannot come within five yards of the return man until he catches the ball. The rule makes punt returns more frequent and safer for the return man. Last night's game included several exciting returns by Montreal that would not have occurred in American football.
A downside and upside to the CFL's 2023 season is its television coverage in the U.S. Last year, ESPN+ covered about half the schedule, so finding games was straightforward. This year, many games will be free via streaming at cfl.ca/preseasonlive, including two games today at 4:00 and one at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Other games will be streamed during the regular season, while the CBS Sports Network will carry others.
Anyway, if you do not regularly watch the CFL, I encourage you to check out some games this summer while you await the college and NFL seasons.
As background on the Canadian game through the eyes of a Yank, here are a few previous stories to consider:
O Canada and Your Silly Football Rules: How differences between Canadian and American rules emerged.
CFL-XFL Interleague Play? A History of Canadian-American Football Games: A history of Canadian and American teams playing one another and the rules used in those games.
Canada's Heisman Trophy: The Hec Crighton Award: Self-explanatory
Coming to America: The Canadian Rugby Exhibition of 1909: The Canadian game influenced American rules during the football crisis of 1909.
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