How to watch the Grey Cup

Pretty field is pretty/MichaelDorosh

Pretty field is pretty/MichaelDorosh

Because yes, that’s a thing people do

Some people, cough, cough, Matthew Jack Wincherauk, decide not to watch the Grey Cup. Others, like myself – being the good half-Canadian I am – sit down with cheap pizza and pop of various varieties to watch the concluding game of the CFL season.

I watched it with some of my co-workers in residence. Now, some of them are die-hard CFL football fans; I almost had to restrain one of them during the first few minutes when the Ottawa Redblacks went up 13-0. The others? Well, they were wondering how long it was going to be before Fall Out Boy froze their limbs off in front of their very eyes. I swear Pete Wentz thought they’d accepted a gig somewhere warm and was sorely disappointed that he found himself in Winterpeg, in November, in an overpriced stadium, in front of empty seats while said fans journeyed for more of their life-blood (read: beer).

The game was a good one, cultural appropriation aside (and no, I’m not talking about the pseudo-hipster lumberjack aesthetic championed by the fans of the boys from Ottawa). I mean sure, there were a ton of incompletions and screw-ups on both sides of the ball, but the highlight had to be when the Redblacks didn’t come out of the locker room on time. The game was delayed a few minutes while Rick Campbell, the team’s time-challenged head honcho, tried to figure out if his entire squad was on the field.

Edmonton, much to most people in the west’s chagrin, managed to take home the trophy, but not without some tense moments. Starting QB Mike Reilly, the MVP of the whole shindig, endured hit after hit by the ravenous Ottawa defense to win the game.

I can’t say I was cheering for the Eskimos – ok, fine, I was actively cheering against them – but I was glad to see a very competitive game to finish off the season. Nothing worse than a professional football league where the last game is an absolute shit-kicking (insert joke about the Riders here).

And here’s the reason the CFL will always struggle to attract fans. Sure, we crazies who feel a true love for the game will endure through the long winters, but the league isn’t all that palatable to the casual fan. The things that make the CFL great – the shorter possessions, great athletic balance, and rabid fan bases – are not immediately obvious to a channel-flipping everyman from Redvers, Saskatchewan or Toledo, Ohio. Instead, these alienated first-timers are met with a game that is reasonably hard to follow, accompanied with a broadcasting crew that includes the dubious Matt Dunigan and even more clueless Jock Climie. I wouldn’t trust these guys to deliver the weekly weather report correctly, never mind a TSN broadcast, even if the latter has a law degree.

Is the Grey Cup worth watching? It sure is. Will it ever become jaw-dropping television? No, but then I’ll take last Sunday’s game over any ho-hum middle of the season NFL title any day (or night) of the week.

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