Small Ball

Even in the vast reaches of Canadian Football, it seems like everybody knows your name


I’m not sure when it happened. When we decided that bigger is always better. When did a soft drink become “great” because it was raised to a half gallon sized tumbler? Or the comfy bungalow that’s replaced by the house with separate rooms for every occasion and enough bathrooms to satisfy the sudden urges of a platoon?  Maybe we have always loved big. Perhaps it has always been so.


Sitting on a beach in a Canadian community over the weekend I was musing about Canada Day and our country. Strangely enough I thought of Norm sitting at the end of the bar in “Cheers”. Typical, I thought. Even on this day I was musing about Americana. But it wasn’t nationhood that drew me to Norm. It was the enduring theme “Where everyone knows your name” that had my attention. The comfort of familiarity. Looking around the beach, at the small homes, verandahs, with kids and adults roaming I realized that here, at least for now, everyone knows our name. And that, in a nutshell, is what makes the CFL so special from my viewpoint.


Some gesture to the unique rules that separate the different brands of the game. Fair enough. However, for me, it’s the size of the league. Or lack thereof. Fans can relate to it in a way that makes it seem so close, so friendly and approachable. We all see every game over a weekend. We know the players. We know the announcers. Those watching in a trendy Vancouver bar can hear the same Matt Dunigan manglings as those on the Rock in Newfoundland. Small ball. Huge reach. Just the costs of the drinks vary.


Living thousands of kilometers away, I am nearly as familiar with Winnipeg’s beautiful new stadium as are the locals. I see the developments going on in Hamilton and Ottawa. I can keep track. And I care. “Small” affords caring in many ways. We know your name.


This familiarity allows some to be fans of the league not just of a team. I am hopeful that the fragility observed with Winnipeg last week does not turn into a rout by Montreal in the rematch. The Bombers can ill afford a 0-2 start and certainly will not handle a blowout well. And I pray to the football gods for Buck to remain upright and healthy. I sense that they are on a precipice, even this early. I’d love to see Hamilton wow the crowd in Guelph and develop a special relationship there this year. That said I also hope that Mike Reilly performs well for the Esks. And the Lions in Vancouver are a conundrum. Dating back to last year they have been on a 1-3 skid. They have been flat and lifeless for awhile now and one hopes that they haven’t gotten rid of too many leaders. Last week Travis Lulay looked lost out there with no proven go-to guy providing comfort. Perhaps a 10:00 PM body clock kick-off time will dampen the visiting Argos offensive precision and allow BC to restart their season with some needed passion.


Regardless of outcomes, rest assured that we are all watching the same game at the same time. Small Ball is back.


Season previews for all eight CFL teams are posted in the CFL betting section along with weekly picks from the handicapping team!