1 2021 Grey Cup. Nic Demski L of Winnipeg Blue Bombers evading Hamilton Tiger-Cats players. Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

1 2021 Grey Cup. Nic Demski L of Winnipeg Blue Bombers evading Hamilton Tiger-Cats players. Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Canadian football has a rich legacy. The rules and traditions differ from American football. And lately, the sport has been seeing more and more media coverage.

In fact, it’s one of the best sports to watch and follow today.

So, what makes Canadian football so good? For once, it’s much different than American football. The field is larger, there’s more variety in offense, the passing game is on a whole new level, and the tempo of the game is remarkably fast.

All of this leads to a good deal of popularity for the Canadian Football League (CFL).

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers even rank in the  top 5 most popular sports teams in Canada —and that includes Stanley Cup legends and the best of NHL, baseball teams like the Blue Jays, and basketball teams like the Toronto Raptors. Now, that’s saying something about the team’s prominence on a national level!

Especially in a country where the American NFL is more popular than the Canadian CFL, with most Canadians willing to choose Super Bowl over the Grey Cup.

Canadian vs. American Football

Chances are, you're already aware of American football if you're interested in Canadian football. So, we're going, to begin with the more natural method of explaining things—By talking about the similarities and differences between the two.

Canadian football is every bit as thrilling and dynamic as American football. It revolves around strategy, skill, and teamwork. It's got it all, from intense rivalries to a fanatical following.

But Canadian football has its own set of rules and regulations differing from other types of football leagues.

The CFL is more fast-paced, and the matches here are generally higher-scoring. The size of the field is large, with the extra space creating more opportunities for open-field plays and strategic maneuvering.

Teams in Canadian football have three downs rather than four to advance the ball ten yards. The shorter count puts more emphasis on quick decision-making and smart offensive execution.

Also, if a kickoff or punt results in an unreturnable ball (out of bounds in the end zone), the kicking team is awarded a single point.

Field and Equipment

Distinctively larger than their American counterparts, Canadian football fields provide ample space for dynamic plays and many kinds of strategic maneuvers. The field is 110 yards from goal line to goal line—10 yards longer than an American football field.

This leads to longer plays and more expansive offense.

The width is 65 yards, also wider than an American football field. This extra room allows players to operate more creatively. Passing and running plays also get more space, naturally.

End zones in Canadian football are 20 yards deep. Again, this gives more space. This time, the receivers benefit in making touchdown catches, and the quarterbacks in targeting open receivers.

In terms of the equipment used, Canadian football is pretty similar to American. Helmets, shoulder pads, cleats, and any additional protective gear are all common.

Basic Rules and Gameplay

The majority of rules regarding penalties, timing, punting, kickoffs, passing, receiving, and scoring are the same as American football.

As we mentioned before, teams have three downs or attempts to advance the ball at least ten yards. The offense aims to move the ball forward to gain a first down, giving them another set of downs to continue the drive.

Unlike American football, in Canadian football, there's no force-out rule. Receivers pushed out of bounds while in the air. A completed catch can still be awarded if the receiver would’ve landed in bounds if they weren’t pushed.

The games comprise four 15-minute quarters totaling 60 minutes of play. The clock stops in case of incomplete passes, penalties, out-of-bounds plays, etc.

CFLdb’s rulebook is an updated guide on all the rules and regulations if you’re interested.

Introduction to the CFL

The CFL traces its roots back to the late 19th century with the formation of different football leagues throughout Canada. The modern-day CFL was formed by merging two football leagues in 1958—the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (IRFU) and the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU).

The league began with nine teams. Though the number of teams has fluctuated over the years, it’s again nine for now.

There are two divisions in CFL: East and West. The East Division includes teams such as the Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Ottawa Redblacks, and Montreal Alouettes. The West Division includes teams such as the Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Elks, Saskatchewan Roughriders, BC Lions, and Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

CFL's championship game is called the Grey Cup named after Earl Grey, who donated the trophy in 1909. It's usually surrounded by a festive atmosphere.

The Toronto Argonauts are the defending champions.

Wrapping Up

Canada’s national sport is hockey, but football is quickly becoming a successful sport for sports lovers of all ages. We have it on good authority that CFL’s popularity, assuming it follows the current trajectory, will skyrocket and soon give competition to NHL!