I had a discussion the other day about “Which is more fun to watch, the Canadian football league or the NFL?” My own opinion is that, while I usually watch the NFL, I think CFL games are more fun to watch.
I was in the minority, with the consensus opinion being that the NFL has better players, so it must be more fun to watch. The discussion went something like this:
“Why is the NFL better?”
“Because the players are better.”
“How do you know the players are better?”
“Because they get had paid more.”
“Can you tell that the players are better just by watching?”
“Well no, not really.”
And that’s my point. Once players achieve a certain skill level most people would have a difficult time in distinguishing the best in the world from the also-rans.
CFL players aren’t making the big money in the NFL because they might be half a step slower or 10 pounds too light. But you can’t tell that just by watching them. They have the same skills – and when you put them on the field with equally matched players, they’re totally indistinguishable from their counterparts in the bigger league.
Last night, I watched the Grey Cup championships on TV – it’s the Super Bowl of the Canadian football league. I channel-hopped back and forth between that game and an NFL contest between the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, versus the Arizona Cardinals and I found myself being drawn to the CFL game. The players, especially the linemen weren’t as big, but the game seemed as fast or faster. The skills displayed were incredible – 50 yard field goals, quarterbacks with rifles for arms, running backs deking and hurdling and receivers making acrobatic catches. The passion for the game they displayed was evident in the number of players in tears during the post-game interviews. If someone had told me these were the best players in the world, I would have believed him.
It’s the same in other sports. With 26 years of track coaching under my belt, I often have trouble determining – when watching the competitors in isolation – who is really running faster in a race. Do you really think 98% of the population would know – just from watching – the difference between a sprinter running 10.5 or one who is running 9.8 – or that an athlete had just set a world record if an announcer hadn’t told them they had?
Ditto for basketball – I prefer watching the collegiate variety versus the pros. Every collegiate team has players who can dunk, shoot the three-point shot and drive to the hoop at high speed. In fact, so do most high school teams. The difference between them and the pros is that the players tend to be smaller. But is size something that really makes a better viewing experience?
My point is that what truly makes sport exciting is close competition between athletes of equal ability. And that type of competition might be right in your back yard – in your high school gym or local field.
So, if you haven’t a watched a local sports team play lately, get out there and watch. Whether it’s your local college, high school, or club team, you might be surprised at how skilled the athletes are and how much fun they are to watch.
Dick Moss, Editor,