Everything you need to know to enjoy Canadian football

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, the launch of the ParticipACTION 150 Play List, and the 105th edition of the country's biggest football game: the Grey Cup. This year’s sold-out game will be held on November 26th at TD Place Stadium in Ottawa.

Will you be getting together with friends or family to watch the action? If so, why not head outside before the game and throw the old pigskin around? As you’re re-discovering your spiral, here are some friendly technique reminders from Football Canada:


Grip the ball with your fingers wide and your thumb bracing it. Pull your arm back with the point of the ball pointing in the direction you want to throw. As you release the ball, face your palm towards the ground and allow the ball to roll off of your fingers. Step toward the target with your lead foot (the opposite side of your throwing arm). Open your hips and rotate your shoulders toward the target to generate more velocity. Follow through with a natural throwing motion.


Extend your arms and spread your fingers so your thumbs and the tips of your index fingers are touching in a diamond shape. Hold your hands out in front of you so you can cushion the ball on its way toward your body. Keep your fingers and wrists relaxed as you watch the ball into your hands. Cradle the ball in your arm as you start to run with it.


After the opening kick-off, show your fellow fans that you’re “down” with Canadian football history by sharing these interesting facts:

The Grey Cup trophy was produced by Birks Jewellers and donated by Canadian Governor General Earl Grey in 1909. In case you’re wondering why the math doesn’t add up, it is only being awarded for the 105th time because there were no championships between 1916 and 1919.

• The Toronto Argonauts, one of the teams in this year’s match-up, have won the most Grey Cups (16), but it’s the Winnipeg Blue Bombers that hold the record for the most appearances in the big game (24).

• The Argonauts (“Argos” for short) will play the Calgary Stampeders, whose fans are credited for turning the Grey Cup into a large-scale fan festival almost 70 years ago. In 1948, supporters of the Stampeders (“Stamps”) travelled to Toronto and turned the experience into “Grey Cup Week” with their tireless energy and ongoing festivities in the days leading up to the game. The Stampeders’ official website claims that “Calgary fans turned the Grey Cup festival into what it is today.”

• A few other bits of trivia for you to sprinkle into the conversation: the highest attendance at a Grey Cup championship game was in 1977, as 68,318 fans filled Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. The coldest temperature at kick-off time was minus-16 degrees Celsius at the 1992 Grey Cup in Winnipeg. The only non-Canadian team to ever hoist the Grey Cup trophy was the Baltimore Stallions in 1995.

• Speaking of our American neighbours, you may notice that Canadian football has some rules that are distinctive from the American version. The main differences are the larger field (110 yards long and 65 yards wide), the limit of three “downs” or attempts available to move the ball ten yards, the presence of 12 players on the field for each team, and an extra-deep end zone that measures 20 yards.

After you watch Shania Twain perform during this year’s halftime show, take a stretch break or better yet, round up some teammates for a short walk before you tackle the next round of game-day snacks. However you celebrate the Grey Cup, enjoy the fact that you’re part of a long-standing Canadian tradition.