Canadian Interuniversity Sport Football
Canadian Interuniversity Sport football is the highest level of amateur play of Canadian football and operates under the auspices of the CIS. Twenty-six teams from Canadian universities are divided into four athletic conferences, drawing from the four regional associations of the CIS: Canada West Universities Athletic Association, Ontario University Athletics, Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (Quebec Student Sports Network), 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 CIS programs have been in existence since the origins of the sport. It is from these Canadian universities that the game we now know 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 CIS players have gone on to professional careers in the CFL and elsewhere; a number are drafted annually in the Canadian College Draft. In 2012, there were a record 145 CIS alumni on CFL rosters.
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