Fans waving the white flag on orange rags

This week's reporter column looks at controversy with officiation rules in the CFL.

The outcry is being heard around the country and the chorus of complaints about the amount of orange being tossed on the carpet have become deafening.

For those of you that aren’t fans of the Canadian Football League (CFL) then you likely are totally confused right now, but don’t stop reading as you might catch on quicker than you first believed.

As for the rest of you, you’ve already began ranting and raving especially if you bleed green and white about the allegedly abhorrent demonstration of the officiating being supplied so far this season.

(Note: being an official at the minor level for several sports, I’m not criticizing my fellow striped colleague nor disagreeing with the opinions being tossed around that improvements are needed. What I am against is the ‘conspiracy theories’ being levelled out there. Sorry, but this isn’t an Oliver Stone movie.)

While there has been, and will continue to be, objections and dissatisfaction with the way officials interpret and apply the rules, the protests and criticism from the CFL’s fans, players and team management have ramped up this season to nearly epic proportions.

In fact, it’s gotten so bad there has been some calls through social media of fans asking for a boycott until things improve, a virtual surrender or raising of the white flag against the throwing of orange flags, if you will.

Now, the uprising is nothing new there was a huge outcry several years ago when the number of penalties dished out per game forced the league to bring in the command centre to review plays and eventually to introduce the challenge system on some penalties.

And I believe that’s where things have started to go horribly wrong, too many eyes with different levels of judgment, angles, slow-mo replays and all sort of technology have caused the officials to not only second guess themselves or not worry about whether or not they’ve made the right decision all because it’s likely to be either confirmed or overturned upon review.

The problem, in turn, has now become one of questioning the officials both on and off the field which makes the situation even worse.

I’d much rather go back to the period when replay for football only took into account plays that meant something such crossing the goal line or was it a catch instead of plays like pass interference or roughing the passer that are based on judgment, are completely subjective and where video can sometimes distort the real time action.

Sure the game is fast, players are bigger and sometimes things are missed, but the game’s been played like that for decades and the officials along with their mechanics, positioning and rule knowledge have changed and will continue to as they adapt to make themselves better.

And, like most other fans feel, the CFL needs to clean up their act to not only bring back the integrity to the game, but also to maintain the old and current fan base plus attract new young fans by giving them an entertaining product that doesn’t take three-plus hours a game filled with several 10 to 15 minute delays for someone to review a play.

But that is…just an observation.


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