A Canadian tradition was missing last year.

That’s right, thru no fault of the CFL there was no Grey Cup game in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Although this was a shortened 14-game regular season, the Grey Cup returns with the 108th championship game in Hamilton on Sunday (3 p.m. PT) featuring the Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Canada Day (July 1st) and Thanksgiving are other notable traditions in our great country.

Sure, there are other prominent customary festivities, but the three aforementioned traditions have had a way of rallying all Canadians together regardless of whether they live in a city such as Prince George or a province such as Prince Edward Island.

The Grey Cup has been known as a party, a gala, a special event, yes one big bash.

It is for the young and old, healthy and ill, rich and poor, football and non-football fans.

Grey Cup is also about the Best of the West battling the Beasts of the East.

Throughout the years, my interest in the CFL has faded and I know I am not alone.

I’m not sure there is one specific reason why I watch fewer Canadian Football games than 20 or 25 years ago, but the lure of the NFL contributes to the change.

If the average Canadian was asked to pick one, watching the Grey Cup or Super Bowl, I think we know what the answer would be and the response would be overwhelming.

In fact, are you going to watch the Blue Bombers and the Tiger-Cats Sunday afternoon or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Buffalo Bills?

Fans in Manitoba may be glued to the CFL title game but for most of the country, the Bucs and Bills are far more compelling.

The Tampa-Buffalo game should be over by the second quarter or halftime of the Winnipeg-Hamilton contest so perhaps there is a chance to catch at least part of both.

This doesn’t mean the CFL isn’t a great game or doesn’t fill a need, but the NFL glitz has grabbed our attention.

Let’s be honest, how many people do you know participate in a CFL pool compared to one in the NFL?

In addition, how many people can name more CFL than NFL players?

Outside of Manitoba or the Greater Hamilton area, how many fans really care about who wins this weekend?

Yes, the CFL seems to have become more regional.

TV ratings for the Grey Cup have taken a major hit over the last decade.

For example, in 2019, the average viewers on TSN were 3.6 million for Winnipeg’s 33-12 victory over Hamilton, down nearly half when compared to 2009, when the average was 6.1 million in Montreal’s 28-27 victory over Saskatchewan.

(The 2009 Grey Cup was the 13th man game that cost the Riders the title).

The game itself is usually thrilling and full of suspense even in the last few minutes.

A whopping 20 of the previous 22 Grey Cup games have been decided by 13 points or less.

The Blue Bombers are favoured by 2.5 points over the Tiger-Cats.

Winnipeg (11-3) has been the best team from the start of the season while (8-6) Hamilton is peaking at the right time.

It does not look like the weather will be much of a matter.

If the Tiger-Cats did not have a home-field advantage, the spread would be higher.

Saskatchewan is the last team to win the Grey Cup at home, a 45-23 victory over Hamilton in 2013 in Regina.

The Blue Bombers ended a 29-year championship drought when they beat Hamilton in 2019.

The Tiger-Cats now have the league’s longest drought at 22 years (1999).

I admit I haven’t followed the CFL very closely this year, but would pick Winnipeg to win by a touchdown even though the Tiger-Cats are due and will have the home crowd cheering them on.

Football fan or not, the Grey Cup gives an excuse to party.

And this year, any reason to party, in small groups, of course, is greatly needed.

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Prince George Cougars associate coach Josh Dixon is this week’s guest on the Cat Scan podcast.

During the episode, he discussed numerous topics including:

  • Having a young team that’s learning how to win
  • Assessment of the first third of the season
  • Strength in goal
  • Breaking down the season in 7-game segments

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK

During a brawl in the stands at a Vegas Golden Knights game, a woman removed her prosthetic leg and beat another fan with it. The victim was going to sue the lady, but the case did not have a leg to stand on.

*Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg

There were a couple of unusual, bizarre freak occurrences over the weekend. One, there was snow in Hawaii and, two, the Detroit Lions won a game. What? The Lions won?

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says he doesn’t regret the “I still own you” boast he made about the Chicago Bears back in October. It’s an invitation for karma and retribution to make that kind of comment about a professional team….. which is I guess Rodgers felt safe making it about Da Bears.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Lakers star LeBron James, fully vaccinated, tested positive for COVID-19 but was cleared a couple of days later. For once, his teammates begged him not to pass anything.

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

In Case You Missed It:

Molly Schuyler, a 5-foot-7, 125-pound Nebraska mother of four, ate a record 363 chicken wings in 30 minutes at Wing Bowl 22. Witnesses say she was poultry in motion.

*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games. Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes)