Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review: 100 Grey Cups (2012)

By Stephen Brunt

What's an American doing reading a book about the history of the championship game of the Canadian Football League?

Easy - the publisher sent me a review copy. I can see Canada on my way home from work every night (insert Sarah Palin joke here), so someone must have thought I'd be a little interested. And, that person was right. News of the CFL leaks its way here every so often, and some famous players (Doug Flutie, Warren Moon for starters) have been very successful north of the border.

One hundred championship games are an obvious reason for a celebration, and the CFL was smart to call in Stephen Brunt, a fine journalist, to do the lifting here for a coffee-table style book. His approach is the most interesting part of the story.

Instead of doing a review of each and every game in Grey Cup history, Brunt instead takes more of a big picture approach. He focuses on less than a dozen games that he considers particularly noteworthy or indicative of the league's history as viewed by teams.

In a sense, then, each chapter is something of a recap of one of the teams that have played in the CFL over the years. The glory years for each team are reviewed, with plenty of pictures from a variety of eras represented.

The exception is the team from Baltimore, which popped up in the CFL briefly when the league tried to expand to America in a fruitless attempt to change its business model. Baltimore did win a title and supplied some top talent when it and the other U.S. teams gave up. It gets reviewed here. Speaking as someone who hasn't been paying close attention to the league's financial situation, it's good to get a summary of what happened over the years.

Brunt also has plenty of sidebars along the way, covering a variety of subjects. It's a good fit in a format like this. And the pictures are very nice; they obviously cleaned out the attic and basement for this effort.

What's wrong, then? It seems a little thin for a book of this type. There are less than 200 pages of type here, and it can go by very quickly. That ties into the price, set at $45. That's probably a bit high even in Canada, where prices are more than they are at the United States.

"100 Grey Cups" is quite attractive and covers the required ground well enough. Whether you find it worth the price tag is entirely up to you, and not for an American to judge.

Learn more about this book.

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