Like many of you fair-weather fans out there, I jumped on the Grey Cup bandwagon and booked a spot on the couch to watch the Canadian Football League’s big trophy game.

I confess I got wrapped up in the nostalgia of it all; the history of the sport, the legends of the game, and the image of Doug Flutie in a football uniform. Sigh.

Football is not my sport. The game has more stops and starts than I did the first time I learned to drive a standard. The game just moves too slowly for me and I don’t know why, but it makes me sleepy. Nothing says nap time on a Sunday afternoon like the sound of a football game on the television. Okay, maybe golf – only golf doesn’t say nap time, it says full-on coma.

But this Grey Cup felt different. There was something patriotic in the 100-year legacy of the game, the way it all started on university campuses. There is national pride in the way we do football differently in this country, the way our heroes in the sport are less about corporate sponsors and more about athleticism that appeals to me. Well it did, until the second quarter of the game, when a player, formerly from my alma mater, tripped on the field during a play. That started the heckling from my dear spouse, the Carpenter.

Three of the Toronto Argonauts were former York University football players. These guys came to York long after I’d graduated, but still, I let out a cheer for my former school. That made me a target in my own home.

I admit I attended York University, home of the former Yeomen, now known as Lions (somehow this is a more gender-neutral name? Whatever), during perhaps the worst period of football in the school’s history. I like to say I attended a school where world peace and global economics took precedence over football (go with me here). It helps me cope.

“I guess they improved their team since you were a student there,” the Carpenter said, wearing a grin reserved for moments when he knows he has the advantage. He never went to university. He never had a football team. He was busy earning a union wage and building a pension while I wrote essays. Sigh. I ignored him.

“They probably had to replace all the players because they kept injuring themselves tripping over one another to make a play,” he said, now laughing and clearly about to unleash an onslaught of York insults. It never gets old.

“That’s when they replaced football players with the track and field team,” now he was slapping his leg in hysterics. “Hey, I know why the team ran all over the field; ‘cause the distance runners kept running around the track … “The long jumpers were hard to train too. One, two, three, leap.”  Tears began to fall from his cynical eyes and he clutched his chest, gasping for breath.

“Oh, it hurts,” he said, feigning agony, rolling around on the couch like a juvenile with a fart joke. My death-ray stare did not end the harassment. He was on a roll. There was no winning this one. I don’t like to lose.

Thus, in the spirit of competition, I sincerely hope the Carpenter enjoys the York Lions jersey I bought him for Christmas. Oh yes, I did.


Kelly Waterhouse