CFL: Little league gets set to throw Canada's biggest bash

Fri Nov 23, 2012 6:32pm EST
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By Steve Keating

TORONTO (Reuters) - Ice hockey may be Canada's national obsession but for 100 years the Grey Cup has thrown a massive party, a gridiron celebration that unites a country often divided by language and cultural sensibilities.

The Grey Cup, the name of the Canadian Football League's (CFL) championship game and the trophy awarded to the winner, will be carried onto the Rogers Centre turf by Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Sunday and hoisted high by either the host Toronto Argonauts or the Calgary Stampeders.

The game will be broadcast in 187 countries but with just eight CFL teams spread across the country, the league maintains a folksy, small-town charm.

Unlike the Super Bowl's media day where National Football League (NFL) players are instantly recognizable to the throngs of reporters, the CFL's lower-key version requires members from the competing teams to wear name tags.

Still, millions of Canadians gather around televisions each year in late November to watch and cheer a game where many could not even name a single player.

Even Queen Elizabeth took a moment to observe this year's game, which marks the 100th Grey Cup.

"It is with great pleasure that I extend my sincere best wishes to all Canadians as they prepare to mark the 100th Grey Cup - a trophy first donated by The Earl of Grey," she said in a statement.

"In this way, the link between the Canadian Crown and Canadian football is particularly meaningful - especially in this year when the 100th Grey Cup coincides with my Diamond Jubilee as Queen of Canada."   Continued...

Toronto Argonauts players are interviewed on the field behind the Grey Cup logo during practice ahead of the 100th Grey Cup CFL football game in Toronto November 23, 2012. The Grey Cup CFL championship football game between the Argonauts and the Calgary Stampeders will be played on November 25. REUTERS/Mike Cassese