The Canadian Football League: by Steve O'BrienThe Canadian Football League: by Steve O'Brien

The Canadian Football League:

bySteve O'Brien

Paperback | November 15, 2005

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North American football was born in Canada in the 1860s. For decades, though, the growth of Canadian football was slow to change from its rugby traditions. In recent decades, it has been in the shadow of its largest competitor, the National Football League. Although hockey is held up as Canada's number one sport, the CFL has enjoyed as rich and storied a tradition in Canadian sports history. This book is not the usual general history detailing on-field accomplishments, Grey Cup winners etc. Instead, it combines an historical look through 2003 with discussion of continuous themes which have shaped the League. These include the role of the Canadian player, competition from other pro sports, the media's role in creating an image of the CFL, Canadians' attitudes towards pro sports, and how the CFL continually struggles to survive - often in spite of itself.
Title:The Canadian Football League:Format:PaperbackDimensions:364 pages, 11 × 8.25 × 0.75 inPublished:November 15, 2005Publisher:Lulu pressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1411658604

ISBN - 13:9781411658608


Read from the Book

CFL superstar quarterback Doug Flutie was at a loss to explain why Canadians cannot accept the CFL on its own terms instead of comparing it with or preferring the NFL. “They have to try to measure themselves against the U.S. all the time and it’s their perception of what the U.S. does is always a little bigger, a little better and I mean you don’t have to look any further.” When asked why this was such a prevalent attitude among Canadians, Flutie shrugged. “It’s their own little problem that they have to get over, psychologically or whatever it is.”Oklahoma native and CFL head/assistant coach since the early 1970s, John Payne, was baffled that Canadians do not appreciate what is their own. “It’s a shame it’s that way because just because it’s American, doesn’t make it better. I think the Canadian Football League is the greatest football in the country, in the world. It appears to me that the Canadian fan would latch on to really, their only true national sport.” Payne could not understand the penchant shown by so many in southern Ontario towards the NFL. “I don’t know why the Canadian fans or public likes American football because it’s not nearly as exciting.” Today, the NFL is regarded as the ultimate sports league whose hype, glamour and glitz are peddled worldwide. That image was only created in the mid-1970s through television and heavy marketing. Modern football was not an American discovery. Americans can be given credit for the earlier standardization and the professionalization of football, but not its invention.The Super Bowl is also not about being “world” champions despite such banners at NFL stadiums and contrary to exclamations by Al Michaels or John Madden. The victors win the Vince Lombardi trophy and are champions of the National Football League --- nothing more. Then again, Americans ascribe the tag of “world” champions to whichever team wins the World Series unaware that it is so named because the baseball championship was originally sponsored by the New York World newspaper at the turn of the 20th century. Besides, “World” includes more than the continental United States. Still, it was curious to witness the American reaction to the Toronto Blue Jays becoming “world” champions two years in a row.Although the first Grey Cup was held in 1909, it took four decades before it became firmly imprinted in the Canadian consciousness. Since 1937, it has regularly pitted Canadian teams in an East-West format for Canadian football supremacy. The Grey Cup has provided more than ninety years of tradition, glory and a wealth of stories.For all that, no Canadian would suggest that whichever CFL team wins a coveted $48 trophy donated by a long-dead governor general were “world” champions of football. One can imagine the reaction if references were made to the 1936 Sarnia Imperials, the 1977 Montreal Alouettes, the 1989 Saskatchewan Roughriders or even the 1995 Baltimore Stallions as “World Champions.”Nonetheless, NFL fans, coaches, players and the American media equate Super Bowl champions with “world” champions. Such an attitude is understandable given the tendency of Americans to elevate anything to do with their culture to a “world-class” podium. Yet, Americans are not the only ones who act this way. There are enough Canadians and others around the world who do likewise.As pedantic as it may be, it goes to the core of the differences as to how Canadians and Americans see themselves. Americans use “world” because it reinforces the impression which has been repeatedly imbedded in their mindset. Because they think of themselves as the greatest nation on Earth, they feel that their sports champions should be denoted as such. This attitude does more than buttress it into the American psyche. It does the same to Canadians. The problem with this is that it comes at the expense of their own product. With Canadian sports, the obvious casualty is the Canadian Football League.A standard question asked of Canadian players was whether they had aspirations towards the CFL, NFL or both. By far, the most revealing response came from Canadian quarterback hopeful Larry Jusdanis. The Acadia graduate answered matter-of-factly, “Yeah, it’s a kid’s dream, you know. I think anybody wants to play in the NFL. You see the hype that’s on TV all the time.” When asked why it would not be the dream of a Canadian kid to play in the CFL, Jusdanis seemed taken aback, but responded. “Nothing against the CFL, but everybody knows that the top players play in the NFL. We can all agree on that.” Jusdanis was surprised that his answer did not elicit even partial agreement from me.TSN CFL announcer John Wells chuckled about the perception problems of the League. “The CFL is a wonderful whipping boy and damn it, the League’s made its share of ugly, ugly errors. But they’ve still got the game to sell. The game is the thing. It has to be a wonderful game to survive what the teams and management have done to it.” In addressing why the CFL is so often maligned in comparison with the NFL, Wells noted that, “We take this little league and kick it around for 105 years and say it’s not as good as the NFL or the NFL players are better. I don’t know why we’re taking a back seat to everything the Americans do.” Wells said the problem was not just marketing the CFL. “You can market anything in North America, but you have to get over that damned perception thing.”

Editorial Reviews

"Great research, excellent insights, all captured by good writing make for a wonderful read about a national asset."—Frank Cosentino, author of A Passing Game, former CFL quarterback"Mr. O'Brien has hit the mark on what makes the CFL so special. This book is an informative, but fun chronicle of the Canadian game and the way it's written makes you feel someone's right there telling you the story firsthand. A definite must for the CFL fan."—Rod Pedersen, Voice of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, CKRM 620 Radio, Regina"Extremely well researched. Mr. O'Brien's book takes the passionate CFL fan to school for a fascinating history lesson on our great league."—Dave Randorf, Host of TSN's Friday Night Football"If you love the CFL, you'll love Steve O'Brien's fashion to bring you closer to the game. If you don't love this CFL, Steve will prove to you that you should!"—Rick Moffat, CJAD 800 Radio, Montreal"There have not been enough books published about the CFL - but this one is easily one of the best. The true strength of the text is the diverse, extensive and thorough research including almost 300 interviews. In addition the historical part of the book is fantastic. I like how he worked the CFL into an analysis of Canadian culture in the second part of the book. He does a particularly good job exploring topics that previous works concerning Canadian Football have ignored."—John Valentine, Chair, Physical Education Department, Grant MacEwan College, Edmonton, AB