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Articles: Canadian football

Canadian football

Canadian football is a team sport with 12 players per team. The goal of each team is to try to place an oval shaped football between the goal posts or inside the end zone area of their opponents. The team on the offence only gets 3 attempts, called 'downs', to advance the ball 10 yards and continue advancing. Players, both offensive and defensive, can use full body contact to block the opponent resulting in fast and physical gameplay.

First documented Canadian football game was played on November 9, 1861 at the University of Toronto. The professional league of Canadian football (CFL) and Football Canada, which is the governing body for amateur football, roots back to 1880. The Canadian Football League’s formal existence came in January 19, 1958.

While the origins of both American and Canadian Football lie in Rugby, a British sport, there are few differences between them. The Canadian Football pitch is 110x65 yards, the American Football pitch is 100x53 yards. There is one less player per team in American football. There are 4 downs in American football and 3 downs in Canadian football. In NFL the field goal posts are located at the back of the end zone whereas in CFL the field goal post is located at the front of the end zone. Canadian football is played in Canada only and is not played anywhere else in the world.

According to a survey conducted at the University of Lethbridge, CFL is second most popular game in the country with about 19% adult population following the sport. ( right after Ice Hockey ) The growth in fan numbers catapulted the expansion of several stadiums to accommodate them. This game is also played at the high school, junior, college and semi-professional levels.

CFL is the professional league football and is extremely popular in Canada. It attracts a large television audience. CFL’s championship game is the Grey Cup, which is country’s largest sporting event, attracts almost 40% of the adult audience.

A Canadian Football match

There are two teams of 44 players with 12 players per team on the field at any given time. All players have specific positions; five players that make up the offensive line, a player in the centre, and Guards (players on either side of the centre). Other positions include Tackle, Quaterback, Running back, Fullback, Tight end, Slotback and Wide Receiver.

The football field is 110 yards long and 65 yards wide. The ball weight 14 – 15 ounces. Kicking tee platform is used for place kicks and it can’t be higher than an inch. However, the kicking tees are not required and the players can kick off the ground if they wish to.

Required equipment for playing includes helmet, shoulder pads and uniform (jersey, pants, shoes and socks). The quarterback helmet come with one-way radio headsets, which allows communication with the coach for a brief period when the play stops until 10 seconds left to play, at which time the radio signal is turned off.

How a Canadian Football match begins

In CFL a coin toss determines as to which team will first possess the football. The team that wins the toss decides whether to take the first possession or the second possession. The ball is kicked as far as possible from the 35 yard line to the opponents and both teams may attempt to catch the ball. From the position where the ball is caught play begins with that team on the offence.

The game consists of 60 minutes of playing time, which is divided into 4 quarters of 15 minutes each. However, for the players at the high school or lower level the game consists of 4 quarters of 12 minutes each.

The referee is responsible for the general supervision of the games and has the final authority on all games. He is also known as the head referee or the crew chief. Besides a referee there is an umpire who stands behind the defensive line and linebackers, a head linesman, a line judge, a field judge, a side judge, a back judge and a Replay Official.

Basic flow of a Canadian Football match and tactics

The team in possession of the ball is on the offence and they have 3 attempts to advance the ball by at least 10 yards. If successful they get another 3 attempts. Each attempt is called a 'down'. The team on the defence attempts to take the ball away from the offensive team or at least block them sufficient so they cannot advance 10 yards within 3 downs. If successful they receive possession of the ball and become the offensive team.

Primary objective is to advance the ball into the opponent's end zone resulting in a 6 point touchdown or to kick the ball between the goal posts for a field goal of 3 points. After a Touchdown is scored the team gets an attempt to kick the ball between the goal posts for an additional 1 point convert. There is also a Safety Touch for 2 points where the offensive team retreats into their own end zone giving away 2 points as a safety tactic. If the ball goes out of play or becomes dead in the offensive team's end zone the other team receives a Rouge which is 1 point.

Tactically, depending how talented the players are in their offence approach, a team can employ a “ball control” strategy. The goal of using this strategy is that the players try to get a series of “first downs” while moving the ball in the opponent’s goal area progressively. This way the team manages to keep the ball to themselves for a long time. But by following this strategy it is difficult to score quickly, and the team may lag in the game if time is running out.

The opposite tactic would be to go for quick scoring by forwards passing. A player may run with the ball, pass it backwards to a teammate, hand it over to a teammate, drop kick it ( bounce it on the ground then kick it forwards ) or make a forward pass. This is throwing the ball as far as possible forwards to an advanced teammate. This may however only be done once per down and has the increased risk of the defensive team intercepting the ball.

Canadian Football competitions

There are plenty of Canadian football tournaments organized every year. The most prominent one out of all the tournaments is the Canadian Football League. The league currently consists of nine teams, four teams in the East Division and five in the West Division. It normally features a regular season that lasts for 20 weeks, with each team playing a total of 18 games and given at least two bye weeks.

After the regular season has ended, six teams compete in divisional playoffs that last for three weeks and end at the Grey Cup championship, which is the biggest sports and television event in Canada taking place in late November.

Besides the highest level of competition in all of Canadian football, there are also semi-professional leagues such as the Northern Football Conference, the Mid Continental Football League, the Maritime Football League and the North American Football League.

Betting on Canadian Football

The CFL provides a great chance for professional football betting. The betting lines open from June to November. It is similar to NFL betting.

Betting is offered on point spreads, money lines and totals for regular and post season games. CFL includes point spread betting in which some points are subtracted to your preferred team. So if you have placed your bet on your favourite team, in order to win the bet, they must win by more than the points, which are set. In order to win the bet the underdog needs to lose by less than the points that are set or they just have to win outright.

Yet another type of betting is over, under or game betting. It consists of the total number of points scored by both the teams.

CFL betting also involves money lines whereby the betting takes place on the winner of the game irrespective of the points difference.