Tag: Calgary Stampeders

Day 995: Little Rivalry On The Prairie

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Newcomers to the city of Edmonton inevitably have questions regarding our perpetual rivals to the south, or what has come to be known as the Battle of Alberta. They don’t ask me – I purposely sport a fanny-pack and 20 pounds of camera gear when I wander about the city so that tourists don’t talk to me – but they’ll ask somebody. The answer they’ll probably get is “hockey”, which is blatantly misleading and 100% wrong.

Edmonton and Calgary have held a semi-snarly relationship for much longer than the history of professional hockey in either city. Far from a rivalry of mere convenience (we are the only two major cities in the province), the Battle of Alberta extends to fundamental belief systems, to political preferential treatment, to bigotry, inclusion, and of course… money.

Which is truly the greater city? As a lifelong resident of Edmonton, my honest answer is that I don’t care. Both cities are gorgeous: they have the Stampede, we have the continent’s most impressive Fringe Theatre Festival. They have proximity to the magnificent mountains, we have an exquisite river valley. They are the economic home-base of the province, we have a gigantic mall.

But enough of the niceness. Let’s see how this got ugly.

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The Battle of Alberta extends for centuries before there was even an Alberta over which to battle. The Blackfoot Confederacy was the political union among the Blackfoot tribes who moseyed about southern Alberta and Montana, killing buffalo and living a northern version of the indigenous lifestyle of the American Indian. Up in the boreal forest that covered the northern half of the as-yet-undesignated province, the Cree and their allies (known as the Iron Confederacy, making the history of this region sound like a bad-ass Native version of Game of Thrones) lived a subarctic lifestyle, which involved trapping and fur-trading. Read more…

Day 330: Superfans!

It’s Grey Cup Sunday.

For me, this means I’ll perform my traditional fall Sunday tradition of watching NFL games all day, then maybe check the internet tonight to see who won the Canadian Football League championship. But for millions of others across this great nation, it’s time to paint oneself in Stampeder-red or Argonaut-blue and tune in to the one-hundredth celebration of Canadian football’s finest – though, as I pointed out before, it was more an amateur championship for the first 50 years or so.

Whichever football league one prefers, it’s a great day for sports (sorry hockey fans – you are getting screwed over this year, I know). And few people love sports more than the nutjob sports superfans.

This is Fireman Ed. Slice him open and his blood will run as green as the New York Jets’ uniforms. He is an actual New York City fireman, not just some dork in a hat. Ed has integrity – when Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals offered to fly Ed to a Bengals-Jets playoff game in 2010 as a peace-offering after having mocked Ed in the media the week before, Ed declined. It wasn’t right to accept such an offer from the enemy.

Ed is passionate. He was charged with an assault after getting into a shoving match, and that was just a preseason game. Against the other New York team.

Read more…

Day 241: A Brief History Of The CFL

Despite my geographical position in one of the most tundra-ish of Canadian cities, I have found that the majority of my readers are located in the United States. I have also found that I possess a dependable disinterest for Canadian football, opting each and every Sunday (Grey Cup Sunday included) to watch NFL games instead. For me, the players are better, the game is more strategic and interesting, and the rules make more sense.

Nevertheless, Ms. Wiki decided to send me on a post route deep into the secondary of the CFL this morning, so it is for my home and native land that I pen this kilograph. Apologies to my fellow countrymen and countrywomen if I come off sounding a little bit cynical.

The history of football can appear deceiving. We are six months removed from the 46th Super Bowl, yet the 100th Grey Cup (the CFL championship) is right around the corner. Yet the game of football as we know it – at least in these two countries – was invented in America, right? So how could this be?

MAGIC?!?!?!

No, it’s rugby.

Oh. Well, shit.

Rugby-inspired football was actually first played by a British Army garrison in Montreal in the 1860s, and soon spread all over Canada. Okay, ‘all over’ Canada refers mainly to Ontario and Quebec; I think the rest of the country was busy trading beaver pelts and trying not to die of exposure to cold to put together a competitive rugby team. But the Canadian Rugby Union called the shots for every league and every team that mattered in the late 1800s.

The reason the CFL plays with 110 yards is because that’s actually correct. When the game was brought over the border to Harvard, they didn’t have a field large enough to host a proper game of rugby football, so they set their size at 100 yards, with less width and tinier end zones. The field size also explains the American reduction to 11 players per side, as opposed to 15 for Canadian (which dropped to 12 as the rules changed) – there just wasn’t room. The Americans also upped the number of downs to four from three because they wanted to see more offense.

This blows my mind a little. I grew up thinking that Canadian football was a bastardized form of the American game, when in fact the opposite is true. Read more…