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1982: Bush-league football?

It's always about the money. The big business of professional sports has meant frequent battles between players and owners for a piece of the multimillion-dollar pie. The 2004 hockey lockout was the first in a decade, but over the years sports labour disputes have plagued professional football, baseball, basketball and hockey — resulting in shortened seasons and furious fans.

With the National Football League (NFL) players entering the first week of the 1982 strike, American network NBC is airing Canadian games to placate their die-hard football fans. After a one-day crash course, American commentators guide NFL fans on the idiosyncrasies of Canadian football. But as seen in this report, NFL fans are not convinced. "It looked like high school football," one fan tells CBC's Tom Alderman, "people who couldn't make it in the NFL went to Canada so why should we watch them." 
• Despite the reaction of some NFL fans in Tom Alderman's report, ratings for the CFL games beat out a repeat broadcast of a Super Bowl game on CBS and Baltimore/ Milwaukee baseball game on ABC.
• The 1982 NFL strike lasted 57 days, from Sept. 20 to Nov. 16. The strike resulted in owners agreeing to an improved salary benefit package for the players, worth at least $1.28 billion over the 1983-1987 seasons.

• The 1982 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) did not change the system but diminished the owners' slice of the profits. It also assured that players would have access to up-to-date information when negotiating their salaries.
• The 1982 strike resulted in the average salary for average player salaries rise from $120,000 in 1982 to $244,000 in 1987. But issues like free agency, pensions, severance pay remained in dispute.

• The National Football Leagues Players Association was formed in 1956.
• The Canadian Football League (CFL) officially began 11 years before the NFL got its start. In 1909, the governor general of Canada, Lord Albert Henry Earl Grey, donated a trophy to the winning team of the Senior Amateur Football Championship of Canada, better known as the Grey Cup.

• The National Football League (NFL), originally known as the American Professional Football Association, was formed in 1920. It changed its name to National Football League in 1922.
• The "run and shoot" mentioned in the report refers to the offensive style of playing common in the CFL. It's a style that allows the quarterback to move more freely around the field.

• Major differences between a NFL and CFL game are:
- CFL games have three downs instead of four.
- CFL field (110 yards long, plus two 20 yd end zones and 65 yd wide) is larger than the NFL field (100 yd long, plus two 10 yd end zones and 53.5 yd wide).
- CFL has one more player on the field for a total of twelve.
- During a CFL game an additional point can be scored on a missed field goal attempt or kickoff.
- In CFL overtime each team has two possessions to score as opposed to the "sudden death" method of the NHL where the first to score in overtime wins.
Medium: Television
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: Sept. 27, 1982
Reporter: Tom Alderman
Duration: 4:46
CFL Footage: NBC

Last updated: February 3, 2014

Page consulted on February 3, 2014

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