Canadian football

From Academic Kids

Canadian football is a form of football closely related to American football in which two teams of twelve players each compete for territorial control of a field of play 110 yards (100.58 metres) long and 65 yards (59.43 metres) wide, with end zones 20 yards (18.29 metres) deep. At each goal line is a set of forty-foot (12.2 metre) high goalposts two uprights joined by a crossbar 18.5 feet (5.64 metres) long which is ten feet (3.05 metres) above the goal line. The goalposts may be either H-shaped (both posts fixed in the ground) or of the tuning-fork design (supported by a single curved post behind the goal line, so that each post starts ten feet (3.05 metres) above the ground). The sides of the field are marked by white sidelines, the goal line is marked in white, and white lines are drawn laterally across the field every 5 yards (4.57 metres) from the goal line.


Play of the Game

Teams advance across the field through the execution of short, distinct plays, which involve the possession of a prolate spheroid ball (similar to a size 3 rugby ball). Players advance the ball by carrying it in the arms or passing it to another player (only one forward pass permitted per football play). Three attempts, or downs, are allowed to move forward ten yards, or the team with the ball must relinquish the ball to the other team.


Play begins with one team kicking off by place kicking the ball from its own 35-yard line. The receiving player then attempts to advance the ball, play stopping when his knee or elbow is forced to the ground (a tackle), when a touchdown (see below) is scored, or when any other player who has obtained possession of the ball is tackled. The next play then starts from scrimmage. The imaginary field-wide line on which the ball is placed following a tackle is called the line of scrimmage. For a scrimmage to be valid the team in possession of the football must have seven players, excluding the quarterback, within one yard of the line of scrimmage. The defending team, however, must stay a yard or more away from the ball. Play begins when the centre passes (snaps) the ball backward through his legs to the quarterback or to a punter. If the quarterback receives the ball he may then advance with the ball, pass it laterally or backwards to a teammate, punt the ball, place the ball on the ground for a place kick, or, remaining on his team's side of the line of scrimmage, pass it to a teammate who is closer to the line or on the other side of it (a forward pass). Play ends as on the kick-off. If the punter receives the ball he usually punts it, but may use any of the options which the quarterback has. After a punt, play may also end when a single (see below) is conceded by a player on the receiving team.

Each play constitutes a down, and the team must advance ten yards towards the opponents' goal line within three downs or forfeit the ball to their opponents. Once ten yards are gained a new series of three downs is begun. When teams have not gained ten yards in two downs they usually punt the ball on third down or try to kick a field goal (see below), depending on their position on the field.

Other kicks

Canadian football, like American football and rugby, distinguishes three ways of kicking the ball:

  • the place kick (kicking a ball held on the ground by a teammate, or, on resuming play following a score, placed on a tee)
  • the drop kick (kicking a ball after bouncing it on the ground; although rarely used today, it has the same status in scoring as a place kick)
  • the punt (kicking the ball after it has been released from the kicker's hand and before it hits the ground)

On punts and field goal attempts (but not kickoffs), members of the kicking team, other than the kicker and any teammates who are onside (behind the kicker at the time of the kick), may not approach within five yards of the ball until it has been touched by the receiving team.


Methods of scoring include:


A touchdown is scored when the ball is in possession of a player in the opponent's goal area, or when the ball in the possession of a player crosses or touches the plane of the opponent's goal-line, worth 6 points


After scoring a touchdown a team may attempt to add to its score by means of a scrimmage play from any point between the hash marks on or outside the opponent's five yard line, by kicking a field goal, worth 1 point, or by scoring a touchdown by means of a ball carrying or passing play, worth 2 points. This is known as a convert or conversion.

Field goal

A field goal is scored by a drop kick or place kick (except on a kick-off) when the ball, after being kicked and without again touching the ground goes over the cross bar and between the goal posts (or goal posts produced) of the opponent's goal, worth 3 points.

Safety/Safety touch

A safety touch, more commonly known as a safety, is scored when the ball becomes dead in the possession of a team in its own goal area, or touches or crosses the dead-line or a side-line-in-goal as a result of the ball having been carried, kicked, fumbled or otherwise directed from the field of play into the goal area by the team scored against, or as a direct result of a kick from scrimmage having been blocked in the field of play or goal area, worth 2 points.


If the ball is kicked into the goal area by an opponent, a single point or rouge is scored when the ball becomes dead in possession of a team in its own goal area or when the ball touches or crosses the deadline, or a side-line-in-goal, and touches the ground, a player, or some object beyond these lines; it is worth 1 point. Although rouge remains an official term, it is rarely used, and this score is almost always called a single. The term "rouge" ("red") is a holdover from the time many years ago in which a point was deducted from the score of the team failing to advance the ball from the end zone rather than being added to the score of the other team; if a team had no points this could result in their going "in the red" with a negative score.

Resumption of play

Resumption of play following a score is conducted under procedures which vary with the type of score.

Following a touchdown, play resumes with the scoring team kicking off from its own 35-yard line (45-yard line in amateur leagues).

Following a field goal, the non-scoring team may choose for play to resume either with a kickoff as above, or by scrimmaging the ball from its own 35-yard line.

Following a safety, the scoring team may choose for play to resume in either of the above ways, or it may choose to kick off from its own 35-yard line.

Following a single point, play resumes with the non-scoring team scrimmaging from its own 35-yard line.

League play

Canadian football is played at several levels in Canada. The professional league in which the sport is played is the nine-team Canadian Football League (CFL), and its champion is awarded the Grey Cup. At the university level, teams play in four conferences under the auspices of Canadian Interuniversity Sport; the CIS champion is awarded the Vanier Cup.

Semi-professional leagues have grown in popularity in recent years, with the Alberta Football League becoming especially popular. The Canadian Major Football League is the governing body for the semi-professional game.


Canadian football was originally called rugby football, and is a descendant of rugby union football as played in the 1860s and 1870s by the Montreal Football Club and at McGill University.

The Canadian Football League was known under various names throughout its history including the Canadian Rugby Football Union, and the Canadian Rugby Union. The Canadian Rugby Football Union, original forerunner to the current Canadian Football League was established in 1884.

Canadian vs. American football

For a more thorough discussion of differences between Canadian and American football see: Comparison of Canadian and American football

The rules of the Canadian football are very similar to American football, and the National Football League has established a formal relationship with the Canadian Football League.

In some regions along the Canada-USA border, especially western areas, some high schools from opposite sides of the border will regularly play games against one another (typically one or two per team per season). By agreement between the governing bodies involved, the field of the home team is considered a legal field, although it is a different size from one school's normal field. Rules agreements appear to vary; some have asserted that the rules switch depending on which team possesses the football, but most Internet-accessible newspaper reports on cross-border games seem to indicate that the rules of the home team are followed throughout the game.

Due to the similarities to the game, many outside of Canada today consider Canadian football a minor variation of the American game and the CFL to be a minor league and not a major professional league. However, the game is relatively popular in Canada, and the CFL is considered a major league in the country, arguably being the second most popular professional sports league, the NHL being first. Indeed, many Canadian football players are also American football players.

It should be noted that while the traditional American football season runs from September or late August until December with the NFL playoffs occurring in January, the CFL regular season begins in June so that the playoffs can be completed by mid-November, an important consideration for a sport played in outdoor venues in locations such as Edmonton, Alberta and Regina, Saskatchewan.

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See also

External links

de:Canadian Football eo:Kanada piedpilko fr:Football canadien it:Football canadese


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