Are You Watching The Canadian Football League?
by Matthew Dorrell

Briefly, an incomprehensive guide to help you understand if it is the CFL, and not another football league you are watching, presented in an “If A then B” format in an effort to further complicate things:

Instead of a coin-toss to determine first possession and field position, two players from opposing teams run at each other like over-sexed mountain goats in heat.

You are watching the XFL, which replaced the traditional coin-toss with opposing players sprinting from their respective 30-yard lines toward the ball, placed at the 50. During one of the first XFL games, this “first play” of the game resulted in a dislocated shoulder. This will be remembered as the brightest moment in the history of the XFL, which, from that point forward, barrelled downhill with nearly unimaginable speed and determination.

Someone scored something called a “rouge.”

A team scores a rouge when the opposing team is unable to return a missed field-goal, or a punt, outside of their own end zone. The kicking team scores one point. You are most definitely watching the CFL – home of both the “rouge” and the unlikeliest name for a sports franchise: The Alouettes.

The players are just wandering about the field.

That is probably the NFL you're watching. In the NFL, unlike the CFL where time expires only during the play, time can expire between plays, so the winning team likes to stall. Where the CFL has only one time out, the NFL has three regular time-outs and a time-out to be used only in the last 2 minutes, but only in the second and fourth quarters – these are also used to stall.

Police have grabbed and cuffed a player, and are now dragging him from the field.

This could happen in any league; pro sports and various illegal predilections (particularly drug abuse) go hand-in-hand. However, you are probably watching the NFL. Recent arrests in the NFL: Corey Dillon of the Bengals in 2000 for beating his wife, Carolina Panther Rae Carruth in 1999 for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Cleveland Brown's draft-pick Jeremiah Pharms in 2001 for first degree armed robbery, Philadelphia Eagles' Thomas Hamner in 2001 for cruelty to animals, and various others for a wide-range of sexual and drug-related charges.

The receiver waved like he didn't want to be tackled, so they just stood and watched him catch the kick.

In the NFL, receivers can signal to the other players, opting to call a “fair catch.” Once they make the catch, the play ends and their team begins their first possession wherever the ball was caught. This rule does not exist in CFL which instead has the “five yard rule” in which opposing players must remain five yards away from the receiver until he catches the ball, at which point they do their best to injure him. Arena football uses the “five yard rule” as did the XFL. You are watching the NFL.

Field is awfully small. I don't recognize the jerseys.

You might be watching the NFL, which has 128 teams currently, making it hard to keep up with new teams like the Loa Mormons. However, an NFL field is 100 yards long with 10 yard end zones, and is 50 yards wide, which is not so small. As an American you may not recognize the CFL teams, but they are easy to learn, there being only eight at the moment, five of which go by the name “Rough Riders,” or some variation of the words “rough” and “ride”. CFL teams though, have even bigger fields: 150 yards long with 20 yard end zones; 65 yards in width. What you are watching is Arena Football. In Arena Football the fields are 50 yards long and 28 1/3 wide. Nobody knows who the teams are.

They forgot about the fourth down.

The CFL has only three downs. Everyone else uses the four down system. With the four down system you get many more short running plays than long passing plays, which is fine if you have the time for that type of nonsense. Good for you kid, you're watching the CFL.

Matthew Dorrell has no need for pain killers. And knows almost exactly where he is, and what he is watching.

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