Sportspinions: Parity in football this fall is freakin' fun

With several major upsets this week, the CIS championship is open

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Saturday's Kickoff football game was boring, dull and well, just not fun to watch. There were 14 turnovers, six interceptions and nine fumbles. There was only one offensive touchdown and the referees threw their orange flags more than the quarterbacks did the ball.

At half time the only point on the board was a rouge by Dinos kicker Aaron Ifield. Yeah, a rouge. That's one point.

The halftime show featured several Rex the dinosaurs racing around the field and provided more entertainment than the game did.

I should get over it though. The game is over. They can't all be nail-biting bouts of excitement. There's no need to dwell really. Like a bad grade or a bad night at the bar, learn from it and move on.

Despite the game being a bore, the Dinos win did help create a buzz around one concept the Canadian Interuniversity Sport football league has lacked in recent years: parity.

Saturday's game, albeit a slow one, was not a complete write off-- the Dinos won their first Kickoff homecoming game and beat archrivals University of Alberta Golden Bears for the first time since 2004.

The crowd at McMahon Stadium was solid, with over 3,000 fans eager to see a good football game. Shockingly, the majority of them stayed for the entire game, meaning it was just more than relatives and friends who attended.

The win comes just one week after the Dinos handidly defeated the toast of the Canada West division, the University of Manitoba Bisons-- giving them their first loss since 2005.

The rattled Bisons-- who developed a culture of wining and learned how to do nothing else for two years- carried the weight of that loss to their game with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds where they were shut-out 28-0 in front of a home crowd and were defeated for a second straight week.

The Bisons moved from a second place ranking in the CIS top-ten- A poll selected by 11 members of the national media- to not making the cut.

Wait, it gets weirder. The Simon Fraser University Clan have won two games this year, beating the powerhouse University of Saskatchewan Huskies and UBC. The Clan cracked the CIS top-ten for the first time since 2004.

The Dinos, Huskies, Thunderbirds and the Clan are all tied for first place in the Canada West standings after three weeks of play. That is exciting news for football fans. It means there will be no free lunches this fall and neither the Dinos or the Clan can phone it in this weekend when the U of C travels to B.C.

The Clan, whose performance in the past four years has been less than enviable, has a chance to turn the heads of the rest of the league and gain a first place position in the west.

Even powerhouse Laval, who beat the Acadia Axmen 47-1 last week, are tied with two other teams in the Quebec division.

The parity in this league is refreshing to see. It's healthy for Canadian football-- especially since the CFL has lost it's unpredictably. We know the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimoes are going to be crawling on the BC Lions doorstep all season in the West, while the Montreal Alouettes are going to dominate the East, and eventually bow out to the West in the Grey Cup. Oh, and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are going to be in the basement playing Madden '09.

In golf, the cut after two days of play should be par-- this concept is now being applied to the 2008 CIS league.

So you can watch The Detroit Red Wings dominate the West in the NHL, the Indianapolis Colts roll over competition in the NFL or the San Antonio Spurs yawn their way deep into the NBA playoffs, but I'm keeping my eye on the parity of Canada West this fall because, damn it, it provides an unpredictable outcome that is crucial for organized sport to thrive and gives casual fans a reason to pay attention.