the World Championship of (gridiron) Football

Every year after the US football season concludes, I make some variant on the same joke on social media

Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs!
Good luck next week in the World Championship vs. the well-rested Toronto Argonauts.

the Argos are, of course, the Grey Cup champions (which they won 17 weeks ago, hence “well-rested”), and the Chiefs won the Super Bowl (yesterday) and in my imagination I like to picture a battle for supremacy, even though the rules of each league are different. You’d have to compromise

  • a 105 yard field
  • Three and a half downs
  • Eleven and a half players
  • No ‘fair catch’, because it would be great fun to see the US players signalling for one and then getting pummelled immediately by Canadian defenders

The 11.5 players would be a little tricky. Perhaps you’d have to average 11.5, so you could run 11 on this play, 12 on the next, or 19 and then 4, or (as my brother or my son or someone once suggested) two players should have their adjacent legs tied together as in a three-legged race.

This is obviously never going to happen. When I posted this idea on a Facebook Toronto Argos fan group, some people laughed as expected but others got all indignant about how Patrick Mahomes of the Chiefs would thrive on the wider Canadian field and the CFL players are second-tier and would get obliterated ad how stupid are you for even suggesting this, blah blah blah. (If you think that way, why are you hanging out in an Argos fan group then?)

Hear me out, though.

a challenge

What if the Toronto Argonauts issued a challenge to the Kansas City Chiefs? We dare you to play us next week for the World Championship.

I suspect the Chiefs, having everything to lose in this scenario, would just ignore the challenge, but you might get some fun publicity out of it. Social media taunting back-and-forth. Or if the Chiefs just ignore the challenge, then the Argos can declare themselves World Champions.

Wouldn’t that be kind of fun? I think so. Couldn’t you get some neat publicity out of that? Couldn’t you get people talking?

And also the Grey Cup is obviously a MUCH better looking trophy than the Super Bowl’s Vince Lombardi trophy, so the CFL champ has a built in advantage.

Grey Cup
Vince Lombardi Trophy

The Grey Cup is magnificent, historic, and something you could actually drink out of or baptize a baby in; the Lombardi trophy is just a football on a stick and looks like it was dreamed up in three minutes by an intern.

but what if they actually played

What if you COULD figure the rules out and had a top Canadian Football team play a top US Football team?

It happens. Almost every year, the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds play the (NCAA, but in Canada, for some weird reason) Simon Fraser Red Leafs (formerly the Clan, good name change there) in some hybrid format.

And it’s happened before.

waterloo vs wilmington

I recall a 1986 road trip with the University of Waterloo Warriors Band to Wilmington, Ohio to see our Warriors play the Wilmington College Fighting Canaries (my memory a little vague on what they were actually called … wait … here it is, they were the Quakers.) I don’t remember the score other than that Waterloo got clobbered, due to some misunderstanding of the rules and every play the Warriors ran resulted immediately in a penalty.

OK, the score, if you must: Wilmington 46, Waterloo 6. Waterloo did not try that again. The Wilmingtonians did enjoy having the band there, though. Check out this high precision ensemble. Ohio State, if you need ideas, let me know.

Warriors Band in Wilmington, Ohio, 1986

canadian troops vs american troops

During the Second World War, a game called the “Tea Bowl” featured Canadian vs US armed forces members playing at Wembley Stadium in London, in front of tens of thousands. One half by Canadian rules, one half by US rules. A US marching band played at halftime followed by an even larger Canadian pipe band – and although the US took the lead under their rules, the Canadian team stormed back to win.

(why, why WHY, has this not been made into a movie yet?)

I may have some of the minor details wrong, but this DID happen. A couple of times.


And not only that in the 50s and 60s, the CFL and the NFL occasionally played interlocking exhibition games. In 1959 the Argos played the Chicago Cardinals at Exhibition Stadium (and lost 55-26). There were a few more games like this over the years, including the Alouettes vs. the Chicago Bears (Chicago 34, Montreal 16). The American team always won.

But – in 1961, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats hosted the Buffalo Bills. (Buffalo was in the AFL at the time, which eventually merged into the NFL.) An obvious matchup. Nearby cities.

Final Score: Hamilton 38, Buffalo 21. The CFL triumphs!

Needless to say, the moment the CFL won one of these games, that was the end of THIS idea, the NFL wanted no more of THAT.

so why not?

It seems to me that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats should seize this result, and claim their position as World Football Champions at least until some time as another game happens.

And that’s why the Argos should issue the challenge. We can’t let Hamilton claim this title forever!


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