The CFL is probably not the first thing UK based fans think of when they think of American football. It may not even be the second, as most people think of the NFL and then college football and then the long off season. It is time for that to change! The CFL is becoming more exciting, more accessible and just such plain good old fashioned fun that we owe it to ourselves to start taking more of an interest!
The NFL is a multi-billion dollar behemoth that is a globally recognisable brand. To live in its shadow must be akin to being a non-league football team when the Champions League rolls in to town. So how must that make those involved with Canada’s professional football league, the CFL feel? After all, they are the ones with the tiny markets, the nine team league and the rules tweaks that can seem so odd to first time fans.
It is true, the CFL is small. It is true; the CFL has flirted with disaster. Expansion into the Northern United States market was a failure. Teams have disappeared down the years and it is not the place we would expect to find marquee names playing. To compare the NFL to the CFL is to make the latter seem even smaller. Take the salary cap for example, in the NFL it is currently $168 million a year for each team, in the CFL that number is $5.15 million a year. There really is no comparison.
So does the CFL feel inferior? Judging by the amount of self-effacing jokes Canadians make about it, possibly. The question is does this matter? Not really. Let’s just take the CFL at face value, a small, but growing, vibrant, fun league that plays from June to November and is well worth a look. After all 10 per cent of Americans have started following the CFL ‘very closely’ or ‘fairly closely’ according to recent research.
This is a league on the up. If you are a follower of college football and miss some of the guys who don’t make it to the NFL – then you are likely to recognise quite a few players out on the CFL field. If you are looking for talent that might one day make it to the NFL then this is one place to look. If you want to see fast moving, entertaining football when the NFL and college football are still a month or two away, then the CFL is for you.
I hear people saying the NFL stand for No Fun League from time to time. This is not something you can level at the CFL. When players are playing for the love or the opportunity rather than the money like they are north of the US border, then fun really counts!
Just be warned when you find yourself watching football in July on a huge field with lots of pre-snap movement and no 4th down…you might just find yourself starting to fall in love with the little league that can grab our attention.
Image copyright: The Daily Dose.