Monday, 27 September 2010

Fix the Zebras

I hate to pile on when things are going badly, but there needs to be some serious overhaul in officiating in the Canadian Football League.

Too many times this season, I have seen games altered by missed or poor calls. Just this past weekend the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who fought tooth and nail with the Montreal Alouettes, were the victims of one of the worst calls I have ever seen. Let me set the scene:

Late in the fourth quarter with Winnipeg up by six, Montreal Alouette WR Jamel Richardson seemed to catch a pass and then proceed to fumble after getting rocked by Ian Logan. It was a hell of a hit that sent the ball to the turf, where it was scooped up by Winnipeg's Brandon Stewart. The Bombers had the ball, and with a few runs, could kill the clock and get a much-needed victory.

But hold the phone, the call on the field was an incomplete pass. So Winnipeg Head Coach Paul LaPolice challenged the call hoping to have it overturned. It was clear to anyone with any objectivity that Richardson caught the ball, took almost two full steps, was hit and lost the ball. For the 20+ years that I've been watching football, that's been a fumble. Except, apparently, in the CFL. "After review, the call on the field [was] upheld."

Pardon my French, but that's bullsh*t! The Bombers were completely jobbed. Everyone knows I have no love for the Bombers, but this call was garbage. And it's not the first time that the Bombers have been the victim of a bad call on a non-fumble this season.

During a game between the Blue Bombers and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Tiger-Cat QB Kevin Glenn seemed to have fumbled the ball, but the play was blown dead before anyone could pick up the ball. The Bombers did recover the fumble, but unfortunately for them, it didn't matter. The whistle blew, the play was dead, the Bombers were out of luck. The Cats would score on that drive, and the Bombers lost the game.

A similar scenario unfolded between the Roughriders and Tiger-Cats this past week as well, except this time, after a challenge by the Riders, DeAndra' Cobb's fumble was recognized and the Riders were given the ball. It was almost the exact same thing that happened two months earlier, but the call was, correctly, reversed this time around. Cobb did fumble, so that's not my complaint. The lack of consistency from game to game, however, is my complaint. How can the same thing happen in two separate games, yet be called differently?

Is 2010 just the year of bad officiating? The CFL seems to have a controversial call or missed call every week, there was the horrendous call on Calvin Johnson's TD catch in Week 1 of the NFL season (that's a rule-based problem, however, but I'm still salty over it), the botched call that cost Armando Galarraga his perfect game, and let's not forget the horrible refereeing that marred an otherwise brilliant FIFA World Cup (I'm still angry about the blown call in the Germany-England match).

This CFL season has had its ups and downs, but the officiating seems to be at an all-time low. It's getting to the point where I'm surprised when the refs don't blow a call. I know refereeing isn't easy, and I don't expect them to be perfect, but these egregious calls are piling up and referees are now having an impact on the outcome of games. I pay to watch the players play, and I want them deciding who wins and loses, not some guy wearing zebra stripes.

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