East–West Shrine Game
|East–West Shrine Game|
|Series||West leads 47-37-5|
|East (23)||West (13)|
|For years when two games were played in one calendar
year, (J) denotes January and (D) denotes December.
The East–West Shrine Game is an annual postseason college football all-star game played each January since 1925. The game is sponsored by the fraternal group Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, and the net proceeds are earmarked to some of the Shrine's charitable works, most notably the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The game's slogan is "Strong Legs Run That Weak Legs May Walk".
The game matches teams of players who attended college in the Eastern United States against those schooled in the Western United States. The game and the practice sessions leading up to it attract dozens of scouts from professional teams. Since 1985, Canadian players playing in Canadian university football have also been invited (even though the CIS and NCAA play by different football codes). As such, this is the only bowl game in either the Canadian or American college football schedules to include players from both Canadian and American universities.
In recent decades, the game has been played in mid-January so players from teams whose schools were involved in bowl games can participate, which is important, as these teams often have some of the very best players.
For most of its history, the game was played in the San Francisco Bay area, usually at San Francisco's Kezar Stadium or Stanford Stadium at Stanford University, with AT&T Park as a host in its final years in Northern California.
In 2006, the game was played in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, moving out of the San Francisco Bay area for the first time since 1943 (when it was shifted to New Orleans due to wartime travel restrictions to the West Coast). The growth of cable television meant NFL scouts could now view players around the country, making postseason all-star games less important. Even so, the Shrine Game's organizers relaxed efforts towards attracting top players to the game, meaning many of college football's best players went to the Senior Bowl, instead.
The Shrine Game moved once again to Houston, Texas, for its 2007 event. The game was moved to Reliant Stadium, which plays home to the Houston Texans (NFL), to be closer to one of the 22 Shriners Hospitals for Children. Texas is home to two Shriner's hospitals, one in Houston and the other in Galveston. The 2008 Shrine Game was held at Robertson Stadium on the campus of the University of Houston due to the lack of available dates for Reliant Stadium. In 2010, the game moved to Orlando, Florida, and was held at the Citrus Bowl.
After three years there, the 2013 game was scheduled to be held at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida; it was the sixth different venue (in four cities and three states) in the last nine contests.
For 26 years (1948–1973), a similar game was played in Miami, Florida at the Miami Orange Bowl, also sponsored by the Shrine, involving teams from the North and South (the North-South Shrine Game). The South won 13 games in the series and the North won 12, with one tie. The Shrine executive committee voted to discontinue the series after 1973, due to sparse attendance and the failure to secure a national television contract.
The West currently leads all-time with 47 wins to the East's 37 wins. Five games have tied.
Despite the fact that the Shrine Game is an American football competition, players playing in Canadian university football, which play under Canadian football rules, have been invited every year since 1985. Because of this, the Shrine Game is the only game on either the Canadian or American college football schedules in which players from both sides of the border compete with or against each other. No American university currently has a Canadian football program, and only one Canadian university currently has an American football program (the Simon Fraser Clan, which had pulled out of the NAIA in favour of CIS football, but have since joined NCAA Division II.).
As of 2008[update], two players from each team are from Canadian universities. The Canadian players on the Western team come from Canada West schools, while the players on the Eastern come from the other three Canadian conferences. The practice of inviting Canadian players began in 1985 when Calgary Dinos offensive lineman Tom Spoletini was invited to play. Two Canadian players (one for each team) were invited starting in 1986, and continued every year since, except in 2008, when four Canadian players (two per team, one each on offense and defense) were invited.
- Lakeland Ledger, December 25, 1973
- 'Lakeland Ledger, August 16, 1974
- "East-West Shrine Classic Games". College Football Data Warehouse. Retrieved 2008-12-07.
- Mayer, Larry (2013-01-01). "Bears building, not rebuilding, moving forward". Chicago Bears. Retrieved 2013-01-01. "The East-West is coming up (Jan. 19), the Senior Bowl is coming up (Jan. 26)."