In case you don't know, the Grey Cup -- Canada's version of the Super Bowl -- is tonight. It is really, really old. You may have seen someone tweet about it, very politely, some time this afternoon. Oddly enough, the game is being shown on American television, so in case you're looking for something to do before Sunday Night (American) Football, we've done a guide for you.
How old is the Grey Cup? Is it older than the Super Bowl?
The Grey Cup is 103 years old, actually. The first one was played in Toronto in 1909 between two university teams. The Canadian Football League didn't exist until 1958, but here we are, with two teams from two of Canada's biggest cities facing off on a really big field and playing with a really big ball to win the 100th Grey Cup. (There were three years where the game wasn't played because of war.)
Okay, so who is playing in this game?
The Toronto Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders. Calgary will be the team wearing red jersey and Toronto will be in blue.
Why is it called Canadian football? Are they playing soccer? Just call it soccer, silly Canadians.
Canadian football is a lot like American football except that it's not like American football at all. The skill level is closer to D-II NCAA football. The most notable difference are in the numbers: the field is 10 yards wider and five yards longer, there's an extra player on the field, the ball is bigger, and teams only get three downs instead of four. There's also a rouge, the rules of which are too complicated for me to explain here, but it involves kicking and awards a team a single point. It will probably happen at least once during the Grey Cup.
Is it going to be good a good game?
Who knows! Toronto had an even winning percentage this year, but because there are only eight teams in the league all but two of them get to make the playoffs. They somehow swindled their way into the Grey Cup, which is being played in their home stadium in Toronto, in the trophy's centennial game. Yes, many people think it's a conspiracy.
Calgary is, as far as we know, a reasonably good team who deserves to be there. They won more games than they lost during the regular season, which is more than Toronto can say.
Yes, but is it going to bore me and put me to sleep?
No, it probably won't. The alterations in the rules make the passing game a lot easier, despite receivers being generally slower than ones in the NFL. They also routinely drop open passes, which is a problem. But when big plays do happen -- and they happen pretty often, kickoff returns are especially common because of the size of the field -- it can be pretty entertaining.
What was that business with the horse?
There was a minor controversy up north when a horse wasn't allowed to enter a hotel. Yes, really. It's a tradition. Yes, a tradition.
Do Canadians care about this?
Mmm, maybe. It depends, really, on location. The league is concentrated in Ontario and the Western provinces. Four of the eight teams are in two of the ten provinces, so in some parts of the country fans are really passionate and in other parts no one could care much less if you paid them.
Should I care about this?
Maybe? It will be a spectacle, which is always nice, but there is no denying the New York Giants playing the Green Bay Packers will be a better football game. If you're a Justin Bieber fan you might care because he is performing at half time. It will not be as obnoxious as any Super Bowl half time show, and, oh yeah, there won't be any interesting commercials. You may also not get NBC Sports Network, which also carries the NHL because it is basically the sports channel for Canadian ex-pats, so that might be a problem. You might not even be able to watch the game.
The game starts at 6 p.m. ET, which is soon. It will be a silly thing to watch on a Sunday night, which might be a nice appetizer before all the very serious Sunday shows on more important networks start.