The origins of the sport of football date back to the mid 1800s. The sport, according to historians, was invented by the Europeans. Ironically, “the first recorded game of football was played between Canada’s McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and Harvard University in Massachusetts, USA” (LeBlanc 1). Since the mid 1800s, Canada and the United States have developed their own rules and methods of playing the game. By using Jacques Derrida’s views on Differance, we’re able to see the differences, as well as the similarities between each country’s versions of the same sport. For example, the American and Canadian Football Leagues both wear uniforms and play with a football. An obvious statement about their leagues, but it’s to prove that both leagues have similarities between them. Although the similarities of the two leagues are often times stated, the differences of the two will be more distinguished between. Because of Derrida, we’re able to break down the differences between two seemingly similar subjects. According to Jacques Derrida, “differance is neither a word or a concept” (109). Since Differance is neither a word nor a concept, the idea of diffйrance must be revealed. We must distinguish the discrepancies between the two subjects Differance and difference.
Differance is an idea invented by Derrida that is seemingly just a misspelling of the word difference. Derrida insists that the idea is more than an alternate spelling of a word. Instead, he states that one letter, when replaced with another, gives a whole new meaning to another word. More specifically, Derrida says that “on the basis of Differance and its history we can allegedly know who and where we are, and what limits of an era might be” (112). Obviously this quote infers the real difference that one letter can make. Derrida goes on to relate Differance to temporization, which according to him means “to take recourse, consciously or unconsciously, in the temporal and temporizing mediation of a detour that suspends the accomplishment of fulfillment of desire or will, and equally affects this suspension in a mode that annuls or tempers its own effect” (112). Derrida’s interpretation of Differance isn’t much more different than the word difference that we’ve been accustomed to.
A form of Differance that will be more focused on when comparing and contrasting the American and Canadian Football Leagues is Trace. By using Derrida’s method of Tracing, the histories and origins of both leagues can be discovered.
Over the past century the National Football League has been much more popular than the Canadian Football League. There have been many contributors to this fact. First off, there’s a much greater population in the U.S., which obviously means more fans. Another main reason for the increased popularity in NFL football is its rules and regulations. The field is shorter and each team gets four downs to convert a first; whereas the CFL only gets three downs. This creates more scoring in the NFL, which in turn causes more excitement for the spectators.
In a way the NFL’s and CFL’s rules and regulations are proportional to their countries. The U.S. generally prefers a faster paced and higher scoring game, whereas Canada is seemingly more laid back, preferring a slower paced and lower scoring game. Another factor that contributes to the lower scoring game is the players. The NFL usually has the more skilled players of the two. This is also proportional to the populations of the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. obviously has many more players to choose from than Canada. Marketing also contributes to where an athlete will play. If the football player is in the money market he’ll lean towards the NFL. The salary is the main reason the NFL has more talented players than the CFL. Money, marketing, weather and skill are all differences between the two leagues.
Not to say the NFL is superior to the CFL because many greats have come from the CFL. The best example is Doug Flutie. Flutie went to Boston College where he first gained his popularity for his 1982 game winning hail-mary against Miami. He was then drafted by the Chicago Bears, where he was told he was too undersized to play quarterback in the NFL. After being cut by Chicago, he went on to play for the Argonauts and Generals of the CFL. There, Flutie won three Grey Cups, equivalent to the Super Bowls of the NFL, and was named Most Valuable Player three times. He’s 5’8” and 175 pounds, which makes it more unbelievable that he’s able to play football at such a high level. In 1999, the Buffalo Bills of the NFL asked Flutie to play for them. He was highly publicized for coming back to the NFL, where he continued his outstanding play. Flutie still plays football for the San Diego Chargers; he’s 41 years old. He’s just one of the many greats who got their start in the Canadian Football League.
The history of the two leagues is made known by using Derrida’s method of Tracing, which like Barthes’ Mythologies, is still useful in today’s society. Derrida’s broad concept of Differance, which according to him “is neither a word or a concept,” (109) must be something else. “Differance is the non-full, non-simple, structured and differentiating origin of differences. Thus, the name origin no long suits it.” (Derrida 114) In simpler terms, Derrida is stating that his idea of Differance is more complex than his idea of Trace. Trace can be used in concepts such as learning the history of a football league or in more complex situations such as language and writing. Derrida is teaching us to distinguish between his concept of Differance and our concept of the very similar idea of difference. He believes that “the other sense of diffйrer is the more common and identifiable one (the one we use): to be not identical, to be other, discernible” (Derrida 112). Different football leagues, like different concepts of a similar word, play an important role in how we decipher between two abstract, or in the football sense, concrete subjects.
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