As I talk to more and more players that are trying out for the Canadian Football League, I’ve noticed that many of them have a small fear about adapting to another culture. I decided to ask a few players who I knew played in the CFL what they thought about the adapting to the Canadian culture, and although there is a difference between Canadian and American culture many of the players tell me that the culture really isn’t enough of a difference to be considered a culture shock. The 2003 Grey Cup MVP, Jason Tucker, told me “The people in Canada are really easy to get along with as a whole.” Tucker, who now coaches for the CFL, feels that adjusting to the difference in rules of the game is much more difficult than adjusting to the culture.
Casey Printers, who played for the BC Lions and Hamilton Tiger Cats from 02-09, told me that, “The Canadian Culture is different from Americans. Canadians have a completely different set of values, and they are very laid back and really enjoy life…” Printers, who is now acting and has a film coming out this year called “Kode Orange” continued by saying that, “The best thing about living in Canada is the Natural Beauty that the country has to offer.”
Of course, sometimes you have homesickness, especially if you are in a situation like Tucker who had a house, wife, and kids back in the states who he would often miss during the season, but the biggest challenge was simply adjusting to the rules of the game. Honestly, the game should be a player’s biggest concern when moving to Canada. Because the rules in Canada state that 50% of the team have to be a residence of Canada sometimes really good players are let go not because of flaws that they have on the field but because the team has to keep the 50% ratio in place when bringing in a new player. This means that new players need to learn the game quickly so that they can start making themselves a necessity for the team. “The biggest difference in the game is the bigger and wider field, the 12 players (instead of 11) and the 20 second play clocks (instead of 40)” said Printers.
Many players move to Canada thinking that the Canadian teams are not as good as the NFL teams, but it is really close. The speed of the game along with the collisions on the field feel the same. Just ask Tucker who was involved in a helmet-to-helmet hit with a Hamilton Tiger-Cats player that fractured his C6-C7 vertebrae. A lot of the players on Canadian Teams that come from the US actually came from NFL rosters and are good players, so if you are concentrating on the game the way you should be then there will not be a huge culture shock in moving to Canada.