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Fads, Fashion and Foolery for 1994

January 04, 1994|MARY WILLIAMS WALSH

Toronto — CANADA GOES VEGAS: Can the United States save Canadian football? The question moves to Nevada come July, when the Las Vegas Posse joins the Canadian Football League.

The beleaguered CFL sees continued expansion into the United States as essential for its survival and for the survival of Canadian football as a distinct--and, purists insist, an intrinsically superior--sport. The Canadian field is bigger, and the game has three downs instead of four, so there is a lot more passing, action and risk-taking than in American football.

However, the Canadian league is plagued by a serious imbalance in team quality. Also, Canadians enjoy easy access to American games via international cable and satellite television. While they prefer the Canadian rules, they say, they watch American games because there are more teams and the games are more evenly matched and exciting.

While it has no ambitions of competing against the National Football League, the CFL has decided to add teams in enemy territory (i.e., the United States) by focusing on second-tier American cities where, officials hope, uncommitted sports fans will start cheering for the local CFL franchises.

In 1993, the CFL's Gold Miners played their first game in Sacramento, and this year the newborn Posse will play home games in Las Vegas.

The CFL's plans for survival have not been without criticism in Canada. Canadian football purists worry that, if the gambit is too successful, there will eventually be more CFL teams in the United States than there are in Canada.

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