Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Big Game

If you live in Canada, no doubt you’ve heard there is a football game today. The Canadian Football League (CFL) is having their season ending game to see who wins the Grey Cup.

This year the fans are flocking to Vancouver for the 99th Annual Grey Cup.

Host cities have huge parties to celebrate the league and the two teams that made it to the end. Festivities began on Thursday with concerts, parties, parades and a whole lot of other fun fan events. Fans from across the country head out for both the game and the parties to cheer for their favourite teams and just to have a lot of fun with like minded people.

This year’s game features the Vancouver’s B.C. Lions and our very own Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Bomber fans are planning parties and several hundred have made arrangements to be in Vancouver for the game and festivities in the days leading up to the big showdown.

Football fans tend to be a fanatic lot. Especially here in Winnipeg. In the summer they’ll sit in blistering heat or pouring rain to watch the team play and IF the team makes it to the playoffs, they’ll sit in freezing cold weather! Some years, they’ve sat there in falling snow just to see the home team play. This past Sunday, the Bombers game was played in -10C to -14C weather.

Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of sports where the teams can play in such extremes and still have thousands of fans brave the elements in shorts and T-shirts or snowmobile suits and sleeping bags.

I’ll be honest here, I am not a football fan. I’ve never actually watched a full game although I have caught bits and pieces of games over the years on TV. Many years ago, a friend tried to explain the game to me but he might as well have been speaking a foreign language.

I just don’t get it. Guys in skin tight pants and bulky upper body armour racing up and down a field chasing an oval shaped ball. They kick it, throw it and tackle other players to get it to their end of the field to score more points.
The uniforms are absurd looking but the tackle part really gets me. I’ve never been a fan of any sport where any violence is involved. Okay, I know that all that extra armour like padding and the helmets help prevent some injuries but it just looks ridiculous to me.

Then there are the cheerleaders. Lovely young ladies in skimpy outfits that lead the fans in cheers during the countless breaks in the games. For some fans, watching the cheerleaders do their thing is almost as exciting as the game itself. Mascots, Buzz and Boomer have been entertaining the fans and helping to cheer on the team for over 25 years. Depending on how the favourite team is doing, sometimes the girls and the mascots are better than the game.
Halftime is almost as important as the game in some circles. When it comes to playoff time, the entertainment at half time can draw in even more fans.

I know there are four quarters and something about downs and passes. The Canadian game is also different than the way it is played in the USA which just helps to muddle the game play even more. No matter where it is played, it just confuses the heck out of me.

One of the things about televised games – especially US ones - that really annoys me is that networks tend to allow about three hours for a game. Now you’d think that would make some sort of sense when you consider the four 20 minute quarters plus a half time break. But, what they don’t seem to fully factor in is all the start and stop time. The game is constantly starting and stopping – every few seconds it seems. Therefore, a scheduled three hour broadcast can take four or more hours sometimes.

Granted, that extra time really shouldn’t bother me and for the most part it doesn’t. Except when a longer game delays the beginning of the shows following the football game. US networks tend to air a lot of football – particularly on a Sunday. Primetime Sunday night is often delayed for anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. PVR’s and DVR’s don’t know the game is running overtime. So, if you aren’t around to watch your shows live, you either set it to record an extra hour which wastes a lot of space or you miss part of what you wanted to see.

It’s been 21 years since the Blue and Gold won a Grey Cup so the fans are really chomping at the bit for their beloved Bombers to win today. For the sake of the fans, I hope the Bombers do bring the Cup back to Winnipeg. It’s been a long road to get to this point.

Will I be watching?

Well, let’s see here. You’ve got: men in skin tight pants and tons of padding; cheerleaders in skimpy outfits; a representative or two from each team dressed in a mascot costume; musicians in half time; gratuitous violence in effort to score points; thousands of screaming diehard fans dressed in the their teams home colours. Thousands in the Vancouver stadium watching live while tens of thousands will be gathered in living rooms and public viewing venues across the country. There will be tail gate parties before and numerous snacking and “beverage” drinking during and even after the game.

To some people that description may sound like the perfect way to spend a day, but sorry Winnipeg fans - this gal will not be watching. I’ll wait and catch the ad nauseam rehashing in the news on Monday.

Oh, one more thing ... Go Bombers!


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