Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On Canadians and prolate spheroids

I spent a few days in Vancouver last month, doing what Canadians do, or at least what they do in Dave Thomas movies and Glass Tiger songs: I drank potent beer, browsed tourist shops for an astonishingly overpriced Winter Olympics tuque, waited in the streets where lovers meet, and pronounced "about" as if I were discussing footwear. Also, I watched a live televised football game in early July, which made me realize A.) How desperately I missed anything even resembling football, and B.) How strange and wonderful and nonsensical Canadian football actually is. Watching Canadian football is the cultural equivalent of listening to a version of Exile on Main Street sung entirely in Welsh*; it is still football, and there is still a prolate spheroid at the center of the action, but the field is stretched and the goalposts are in the wrong place and there are three downs and before the snap there are men scrambling about and receivers sprinting toward the line of scrimmage, and I kept thinking to myself, on every single play, "That dude must be offsides. How can that dude not be offsides? How is it physically possible that this dude is not offsides?"**

Still, it was football, in July, and the fact is, three downs instead of four just speeds up the whole process; it is like watching a game starring Jason Statham. For instance: In the contest I watched, the BC Lions were trailing by ten points with three minutes to play. They scored, held their opponents to a "two-and-out," and got the ball back approximately 24 seconds later. They had so much time to score again that even after their quarterback hurled a strike directly into the arms of an opposing linebacker, they still nearly got the ball back one more time. (The consolation, of course, was that the winners had to go back to Hamilton, Ontario, whose sister city is Flint, Michigan.)

Anyway, I am no longer naive enough to assign credibility to everything I read on these Internets; however, this caveat does not apply within Canada, Mexico and Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. Therefore, I have no reason not to believe this entirely unsourced report from a man in Toronto claiming that the Buffalo Bills are considering a move to the CFL, even if writer of said report seems to imply, at one point, that the National Football League discriminated against the provinces when it sent the Dolphins to play in Toronto last season, and even if writer of said report actually says, at one point, that the NFL "despises foreigners" (which totally justifies those Morten Andersen conspiracy theories I've been espousing since 1996).

If this were to happen, I would feel sorry for Buffalo, which is best-known for its proximity to Niagara Falls and its running backs who have been tried for mass murder. But I will not lie: If the CFL invaded America, I would probably watch. At this point, I am so hungry for the game I would pay at least $15 to watch a gang of wolverines set loose on an oversized electric football board. Even if they were offside on every single play.

*Preferably by the Super Furry Animals.
**The other great fascination of Canadian football is that you spend a considerable amount of time murmuring statements like, "So that's what happened to Ken-Yon Rambo."

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