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The CFL is the crown jewel of Canadian sports
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The CFL is the crown jewel of Canadian sports 

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The Canadian Football League (CFL) is the greatest example of Canadian national pride and the symbolism of Canadiana within a sports setting. Canada has always been a country where diversity is not only accepted but considered a source of strength. 

In the mid 20th century, CFL was a place where diversity was accepted, in particular as a playing ground for African-Americans to play football in an environment free of discrimination. The Toronto Argonauts currently operate a platform for anti-bullying efforts and ensuring that youth know that the CFL is a platform for strong Canadian values. 

Every fall, the Grey Cup is hosted in a different city each year in Canada and is known outside of the country as our version of the “Super Bowl” as represented in the media. The showcasing of the Grey Cup to a worldwide audience has the ability to represent Canadian patriotism, an idea that we as Canadians hold deeply. 

We see true Canadiana every year at the Grey Cup with the Mounties in full uniform. No other sports league invites Canada’s treasured police force to present their trophy. Every time the trophy is handed off, every Canadian should be in awe of how unique and how special our country is.

At the Grey Cup this year, support for Canada’s vital oil and gas industry was on display by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. Statements such as these are not seen anywhere else, but on the only stage where true Canadian spirit is showcased. 

The acceptance of all athletes and personnel, regardless of race or creed, in the world of sports goes beyond the need for players or a full roster card. It speaks to the fact that Canada is a diverse nation and will always be accepting of any individual without regard to their nationality or ethnicity. 

Football is seen as a symbol of homegrown Canadian professional sports with multiple meanings beyond the sport. Canadian universities outnumber American universities in regards to draft numbers and have special Canadian-only selections. There is always a particular emphasis on Canadian talent on every squad.

There are also basic differences between the CFL and the NFL, such as in scoring, ball size, field size. To many, the CFL style of football is like watching an entirely different version of football compared to watching the more hyped NFL-style football. 

The CFL is largely seen as a league of diversity, of common values and goals, and a particular Canadian national pride. Those characteristics define in part what being a Canadian stands for. 

There is no other major sports league in Canada that is solely Canadian and prides itself on being so. The league may not receive the highest of ratings, but it is the one league we know that is ours and ours alone. 

Just watch a game for yourself to feel the heritage while watching. It is a feeling you cannot experience when watching any other sports league. It is the only league that has the word “Canadian” in it. 

The past history of the CFL has definitely shaped the way we see its current formation.

The big-name ownership of the Argos (including Wayne Gretzky and John Candy) certainly catapulted the CFL into the much-needed spotlight by the early 1990s. Then a failed experiment in the mid-1990s led to expansion in multiple areas of the United States for a three-year duration; seven teams came and went. 

It was this defining moment, where the league realized that they were not an international brand, but that they were Canada’s league, and needed to ensure the country gets behind the league to truly make it something special. It should be known that the commissioner of the league from 1996 to 2000 was John Tory, Toronto’s current mayor. Tory played a big part in saving the league entirely.  

There is no doubt that the CFL will continue to display signs of strong Canadian values and culture, showcasing the uniqueness of Canada, and represents a one-of-a-kind point of view of how Canadians view professional sports, being Canada’s sole nationwide major professional sports league. 

The CFL defines and moves us Canadians. No other sports league can do this in the ever-changing climate of professional sports. 


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