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Canadian Football League

The Canadian Football League (CFL; French: Ligue canadienne de football, LCF) is a professional sports league in Canada. The CFL is the highest level of competition in Canadian football. The league consists of nine teams, each located in a city in Canada. They are divided into two divisions: four teams in the East Division and five teams in the West Division. As of 2019, it features a 21-week regular season in which each team plays 18 games with three bye weeks. This season traditionally runs from mid-June to early November. Following the regular season, six teams compete in the league's three-week playoffs, which culminate in the Grey Cup championship game in late November. The Grey Cup is one of Canada's largest annual sports and television events.The CFL was officially named on January 19, 1958, upon the merger between the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union or "Big Four" (founded in 1907) and the Western Interprovincial Football Union (founded in 1936). Before the introduction of interlocking play in 1961, Eastern teams competed against Western teams only in pre-season and the Grey Cup Championship (similar to Major League Baseball in the United States prior to the 1997 season).

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Major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada

The major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada are the highest professional competitions of team sports in those countries. The four leagues traditionally included in the definition are Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL). Other prominent leagues include Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Canadian Football League (CFL). MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL are commonly referred to as the "Big Four." Each of these is the wealthiest professional club competition in its sport worldwide, and along with the English Premier League they make up the top five sports leagues by revenue in the world. In addition, the sports of these four leagues were all developed in their modern forms in North America, and all except American football have become popular internationally. Because the leagues enjoy a significant place in popular culture in the U.S. and Canada, the best players from these leagues often become cultural icons in both countries. Each of the Big Four leagues, as well as Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League, averages at least 15,000 fans in attendance per game as of 2018. The two indoor leagues, the NHL and NBA, play in arenas that average under 19,000 seats, resulting in the CFL holding the third highest average attendance of the six leagues, at close to 24,000 per game, after the NFL and MLB.The Big Four leagues currently have 30–32 teams each, most of which are concentrated in the most populous metropolitan areas of the United States and Canada. Unlike the promotion and relegation systems used in sports leagues in various other regions around the world, North American sports leagues maintain the same teams from season-to-season. Expansion of the league usually occurs by adding newly formed teams, though mergers with competing leagues have also occurred.

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U Sports football

U Sports football is the highest level of amateur play of Canadian football and operates under the auspices of U Sports (formerly Canadian Interuniversity Sport). Twenty-seven teams from Canadian universities are divided into four athletic conferences, drawing from the four regional associations of U Sports: Canada West Universities Athletic Association, Ontario University Athletics, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec, and Atlantic University Sport. At the end of every season, the champions of each conference advance to semifinal bowl games; the winners of these meet in the Vanier Cup national championship. The origins of North American football can be traced here, where the first documented game was played at University College at the University of Toronto in 1861. A number of U Sports programs have been in existence since the origins of the sport. It is from these Canadian universities that the game now known as Canadian football began. In 1874, McGill University (Montreal) challenged Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts) to a series of games. The Grey Cup, the championship trophy of the professional Canadian Football League (CFL) since its founding in the 1950s, was originally contested by teams from the University of Toronto and Queen's University and other amateur teams since 1909. Many U Sports players have gone on to professional careers in the CFL and elsewhere; a number are drafted annually in the Canadian College Draft. In 2019, there were a record 208 U Sports alumni on CFL rosters, including at least one player from each of the 27 football programs.

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