Sunday, August 15, 2010

Don't Blame Canada

It's not much of a secret that American sports have a July/August problem. They get away with it because the weather's great, and most of us are out of the house anyway. But still, if an alternative was out there -- say, a legitimate, entertaining football league that started in late June -- we'd all be a lot happier.

Little did I know, it already exists.

You just have to think north of the border.

This week my job took me to Vancouver, and Vancouver took me to a magical place I had heard about, but never really experienced: The land of the CFL. Don't laugh. By being a reader of my blog, I assume you consider me a legit football fan, and I'm telling you, the CFL is a real-deal July/August band-aid until NFL and college football start. Here's why:

1) Passion and Tradition. According to a recent Sporting News article, Canadians are more passionate about hockey than ANY country is about ANY sport. That means potential. Hockey can't be year-round, and in the summer, something has to fill the void. Everywhere you go, sports bars are packed, and stadiums are filled. And don't mistake the CFL for an XFL-type fad. They've been around since 1958. Many of their teams pre-date ours.

2) Quality of Play. You don't need to take my word for it, just use your memory. Remember All-American wideout Adarius Bowman from Oklahoma State? Jarious Jackson from Notre Dame? They play here. And when you watch Cam Wake rack up 12+ sacks this fall, remember that before he was a Dolphin, he was a B.C. Lion.

3) Awesome Team Names. Some of the Lions' opponents this year include The Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Edmonton Eskimos, Saskatchewan Rough Riders. Aren't those great? Would ANY team name not sound awesome after "Saskatchewan"?

4) You Can Watch It. The NFL Network carries CFL now. But if you're like me (and the rest of the world) and can't get the NFL Network, you can still watch every game for free on your laptop with (which also lets you watch ANY live sporting event, for that matter -- a prospect so mind-blowing I still haven't wrapped my head around it).

5) You Can Bet on It. I don't need to waste time explaining why (budgeted and within reason) betting changes everything. In fact, had I lost on the Rough Riders my first night instead of winning, it's quite possible I would've never written this column.

6) Innovative Rules. Bigger fields with more players (wide-open action), three downs instead of four (more risk-taking), up to five players in motion before the snap (more offensive possiblities), points for drilling punts through the uprights (more scoring), and my personal fave: every roster must have at least 12 Canadians (more Canadians).

7) More Fights. Fights come with the territory here in hockey country, and there's nothing the league could (or would) do about it. I wouldn't want this for the NFL, but it's pretty darn entertaining nonetheless.

So when you're sitting on the couch on another sweltering July/August evening, sulking because your favorite baseball team sucks, blame your team for sucking. Blame baseball for being miserable. Blame the NFL for not starting sooner. Heck, blame yourself for not searching harder for a solution.

Just don't blame Canada.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Last Untucked Year

He must be 30...
I turned 29 yesterday, and as Lindsey declared years ago, that means the period from now until August 5th, 2010 for me is The Last Untucked Year. You might think this is some sort of metaphor for the last before I have to get my act together, but it isn't.

It literally means I have 364 more days before I have to start tucking my shirt in.

I've heard of bucket lists, but I had no idea any sort of 'before-30' lists existed. Apparently you also can't ask friends to help you move anymore, or have a bottle opener on your keychain. Sure enough, also recently posted a "Top Ten Things Men Shouldn't Do After 30" list. It's overly-general and rather uncreative, but sure enough, number 1 is "Stop dressing like a slob." If nothing else, my girlfriend is prescient.

Anyway, back to what this means for me. I have longish legs and a smallish torso: When I tuck in my shirt, I look and feel stupid. Will I feel any different a year from now? What if I don't? Will I feel stupid every day? Should I just get rid of my mirror?

I guess it's all part of falling in love, though. I mean, I relinquished control of my hair long ago, and I still haven't gotten used to how Lindsey likes it. But she clearly cares more than I do, and let's be honest: There are more important battles to fight.

Now I face a lifetime of shirt-tucking purgatory, which -- amongst other things -- means I can no longer get away with wearing my little brother's old high school football belt every day. It's daunting, and it makes me nervous every time I think about it.

So I just think about preseason quarterback rankings instead.

Friday Night Lights Season Finale Pick

Dillon (-14) vs. East Dillon (8:00 ET): I know it's a TV show, but come on, East Dillon couldn't even field a team a few weeks ago, and Luke Cafferty isn't playing. I hope I'm wrong, but I think the Panthers roll.