Are fans being unreasonable about the CFL refs

Guys and gals, I've been doing some serious thinking about our CFL refs. I'm NOT posting this to defend the boys in zebra stripes but to offer a different perspective.

I posted a thread some time back inviting opinions about CFL refs and NFL refs. I was particularly interested in hearing from avid fans of both the CFL as well as the NFL rather than from those like myself who only watch the NFL occasionally. The responses were quite interesting. Some felt that the NFL refs are superior the CFL refs and that they are better trained. They felt the NFL refs were more consistent when making calls.

On the flip side others felt that NFL and CFL refs were pretty much on par. They talked about games they saw where the NFL refs blew calls that had an effect on the outcome of the game just like in the CFL. They felt that some NFL refs were just as bad/inconsistent as some CFL refs.

Personally I have seen CFL refs get booed and almost verbally crucified for certain calls and when the replay was shown, the refs were right all along! It seems some fans will scream up and down regardless of whether the call was right or not if it goes against their team.

This thread is not about rehashing what your thoughts are about NFL vs CFL refs so please do not go there. Do that on the other thread. What I want you all to respond is to the following:

!. Some of you have been following the CFL for decades. In your opinion do you believe the refereeing has deterioated? Could this perception be due to the benefit of camera angles and replays rather than the quality of the refereeing?

  1. Given the speed of the game and what sometimes results in impossible angles to get a clear view of the infraction etc. is it just possible that the game of football is simply a very very difficult game to officiate? Replays can vilify a ref's call. It can also exonerate him. Before jumbo screens and high tech replays that can zoom in on an image, the fans pretty much accepted the call- the only ones who disputed were those sitting closest to the action.

It is number two that I'm most interested in. Often when a play is under review the replay shows several different camera angles. The refs do not have the benefit of seeing a play from different angles as it unfolds. They also must make a split second decision as they see the infraction or the play. And yet, even under such pressure and with a partisan crowd calling for a ref's head, the evidence upon replay often shows that the ref was right all along. In other instances the replays were inconclusive. INCONCLUSIVE! What does that mean in football? It means that even with the benefit of several different camera angles the play/infraction was so difficult to assess [even with high tech] that we need to rely on the unaided human eye and human interpretation to make certain calls. However, this requires the human element and the human element sometimes simply gets it wrong because of the speed of the game and with so much happening.

Yes, there are time when the refs have screwed up a call. They know it, the players know it and everyone else knows it but really....... does it happen that often. I know everyone of us can provide an example or two of when that has happened but I'm wanting us to look at the larger picture.

I'm just wondering if the "problem" with our refs isn't an issue of competency but more an issue of the nature of the game.

I remember before they introduced a second ref on the ice in the NHL there always complaints about missed calls and stupid calls. Years ago the NHL put another ref into the game. Yet still today things get missed. You have two refs, one on either end of the ice and yet we see all sorts of stuff missed.

Maybe the CFL refereeing can be improved. Then again maybe it doesn't have to be because there will always be the human element and as it has often been stated: no two people see an accident the same way.

After a few scenarios last weekend, I'm way more concerned about the review process, and whoever is running that, than the refs. These guys are suppose to be there to bail out the refs on questionable calls and failed miserably. This, more than anything else the game itself or the refs can throw at you, is major cause for concern, and lends to the Mickey Mouseness of some of the stuff in this league that people keep harping on.

Interesting take on it Taleback. Thanks. :thup:

Refereeing is a hard job. And any time you make a call against the home side in a stadium, good call or not, you're going to hear it from the fans. Right or wrong that comes with the job description. Certainly all the camera angles and replay ability puts everything under a microscope for everyone to see and judge for themselves.

And refs still make mistakes, regardless of whether it's in the CFL, NFL, or any other league. They're not infallible. However this should not be an excuse for incompetence. It's easy to talk about the speed of the game, how they do the best they can, etc etc etc and make rationalizations/excuses. But just like some players in football, hockey, or whatever sport there are ones that just aren't good enough for the big leagues. The same goes for referees. Maybe the game moves too fast and they're better suited for CIS. Maybe all the heckling is too much for them to handle emotionally to properly focus on the job. And its because they can make a mistake, regardless of the reason, that there are all these camera angles and that leagues have allowed video review in limited scope. The problem is that challenges can only confirm or overrule the call made on the field. If the wrong call is made the booth can't change the nature of the call.

But the one thing that can benefit any professional league is consistency. If you're letting guys hold at the line all game long, don't start calling holding just because its after the 3 minute warning in the 4th Q. Improved communication - create a better or more uniform standard for referees when they explain calls on the field, particularly on a challenge. And if the concern is that the right calls should be made as often as possible, maybe they need to expand video review to include certain penalties, like PI calls or contacting the kicker. Or you just deal with it as is.

Has the officiating deteriorated over the years? That's hard to say, but I don't think so. I specifically remember only a couple of calls / non-calls that I thought at the time were horrible (both against Hamilton in the '89 Grey Cup :x - even the Rider fans in the room agreed on the second one), but I remember them only because, in my opinion, they cost us that game.

But if you think about it, the introduction of the challenge and instant replay review came about because fans and teams were complaining about proven bad calls. So the officiating back then couldn't have been that great, right? I think the introduction of the large video boards at games and VCRs forced the league to introduce the change. Up until then, fans only had a feeling that a call was bad, but now they could go back and "prove" it (through whatever team-coloured glasses they happened to be wearing). And now as TVs and TV broadcasts are getting better with HD, and PVRs are getting even more commonplace, it's happening again - or still.

Someone else that decides to open a new thread about CFL refs - why not just put your comment in the existing thread?
You are going to get the same comments about the refs as you did on the other thread.

The only way to know if the refs are actually bad or not is to have some measurement criteria. The league has that, in its grading system. We don't. As humans our brains work best with comparisons, and the only thing we have to compare to is perfection. So we see that mistakes get made and don't know how many mistakes are normal, so we wind up working on the basis that it's zero and thus the refs suck. (We also don't really look at calls like 10 people in a pile and ask "how did they possibly get that right?" even though they do get it right most of the time. We just expect that.)

That said, last year we got one: the NFL officials lockout. For a few weeks we got to see what happens when you remove the NFL refs (that NFL fans say are bad) and replace them with other refs. The results were such a fiasco that when the normal (bad according to the fans) officials came back, in their first game they got a standing ovation. Turns out the regular officials are actually pretty good, and we just needed something to judge them by to realize it.

So here's the thing. Fans are going to scream at the refs. Fans are passionate and stuff happens in the heat of an exciting game. That's far preferable to fan indifference. Could they do better at expressing it? Absolutely. But they also pay the bills and are quite possibly tipsy after a few beers, so that's just how it goes. On-field officials are going to make mistakes. It happens at every level of every sport, even at something like the FIFA World Cup, where presumably they can get the best officials on the planet.

To me, on-field officials are going to make mistakes. That's part of the game. Some of them are easily understandable, some of them are "how did they miss that!?" But that's just how it goes. It's part of the game.

It's the command center getting it wrong that I can't take. They don't have an excuse, the entire reason the thing exists is to get it right. If we're going to wind up with wrong calls, leave it in the hands of the on-field officials and keep the game moving.

I’m not sure what “existing” thread you’re talking about. There are several different threads about refs. While my topic is about “refs”, it is topic specific, namely whether or not they think fans are being unreasonable in their appraisal about CFL refs. There was another topic/thread I began called," CFL refs vs NFL refs, or something like that. That too is topic specific regarding refs; namely a comparison of the the two leagues. In this thread I’m asking for fans to comment on whether or not they believe fans are being unreasonable in their appraisal of CFL refs and to avoid digressing. I’m not asking for a comparison with NFL refs, thus the new thread. Hope that answers your question.

Yes, I think fans are.

I think the league has had more exposure in recent years, and while the quality of the reffing hasn't improved by leaps and bounds which is why there is an uproar on officials. Really though, the state of officiating can't really improve without substantial investment by the league, which may include full time posistions and investments into the "feeders" for the league that train up new refs (IE: CIS, CJFL and the Highschool system) and that in itself is difficult to do, given the CFL's current profits.

Thanks Hammer. What I’m getting at though is that regardless of the amount of training the refs receive perhaps this won’t make much difference. When there are 3 or 4 different camera angles of a play and it is still inconclusive how can more training help the res make a better call?

I have to agree with the replay comment. Coming into this year I was mainly fine with it, and now find it a complete joke, so IMO that has deteriorated.

As far as reffing, I believe it has improved in many aspects and regressed in others.

  • Hits on QBs inside the pocket are called pretty consistantly
  • They brought in the penalty for crying for a flag too much, used it like 2 times, and don't call it any more
  • There is fare to big of an inconcistancy in what some feel is PI, though most are pretty steady in what they call, so that is fair. Defenders are too often called for PI when they have just as much right to go for the catch
  • There are too many holding calls. Now, perhaps those are deserving, and perhaps the league needs to do something about it...say give an elevated penalty or reprocussions to someone who has 3 in a game...but it just kills the pace!
  • There is one crew that is consistantly bad. There is no need to say a name, because sadly 95% of the people here know who. That person needs to go...I will say that perhaps that person could be moved to assist in the replay booth, but please don't leave him there alone.

mind your own business man.

this thread is well deserved.

The bottom line is for the vast majority of complaints about the officials, there is a direct correlation with whether you won or lost. The complaints usually come with the prerequisite disclaimer that "I not just complaining because we lost, the calls were bad for both teams" but we all know the truth. People whine when they lose, other people not me :wink: .

I will go on record and say fans are unreasonable with regard to the refs, myself included (rarely).

I have seen lots of complaints about refs from people with no vested interest. I have seen complaints about refs from people who dislike the team team that took the brunt of it.

Get rid of Prouxl, and I will be happy. I do’t complain about reffing a whole bunch, but I find that I do in pretty much any game in which he is involved…no matter who is playing.

no surprise what I am about to say I am sure, however…

Hell yes, a lot of fans are excessively unreasonable about the CFL refs.

It is my assumption that many watch the game more to see what they can criticize the refs about, than they do to enjoy the finer moments of the game itself.

There was a hockey game years ago with some absurd number of penalties. People complained, and the response was “tell the players to stop hitting each other in the face with their sticks. It’s not my fault that they keep breaking the rules.”

In the case of too many holding calls, I’ve seen very few of them that weren’t flagrant holds. The problem on that one isn’t the officials, it’s the players.

Erm, like I said…perhaps those are deserving. Nowhere did I say they shouldn’t be called.
There is always something that can be done to stem an adverse trend.

"They brought in the penalty for crying for a flag too much, used it like 2 times, and don't call it any more"...by Depopulation

I wasn't aware that there was such a rule in the CFL. I like it and I think it needs to be used more. In hockey they have the "dive" rule where if the ref decides the guy who went down was "acting" then he gets the penalty. Makes for a better game. Heck, even when the call is legitimate the ref will call the guy who went down for embellishing. In other words stop trying to manipulate the refs judgment.

I don't know if they have that in soccer. If not they should. I get sick and tired of guys going down clutching their knee as if their leg has been broken only to bounce back up after the other guy has been yellow carded. The guy who appeared like he'd been cut in half continues playing full out. What happened to writhing in pain on the field just moments earlier? It's a joke in my opinion.

I'm getting a little tired of whining players when it comes to the PI. I agree with you Depopulation the rule needs to be used more. Players need to be discouraged from whining the way they do. I remember Geroy Simon [for BC at the time] thinking he was interfered with. It happened right in front of our section. He stopped playing putting his arms up in disgust. The problem was the play continue after the other guy intercepted the ball. The was one of the rare times I've seen Simon act unprofessionally.

When players do the theatrics they have to understand that the refs will rarely throw the flag because the player thinks he was interfered with. The refs have already thrown it! I also think it winds the crowd up against the refs. Not a good thing.

Another rule I'd like to see used more is the uncatchable ball rule. I think this could reduce the number of PI calls. I've seen QBs throw bombs down the field and there was no way the guy would ever catch the ball. There was one pass thrown deep into the end zone. Both the receiver and defender were a few feet from the back boundary line. The ball sailed through the back of the end zone several feet above the guys heads. To catch the ball the receiver would have had to be 15 feet tall and yet the defender was called for PI. Call the ball uncatchable and it's just an incomplete pass. I don't know why the refs are reluctant to use that rule more often.

Are fans being unreasonable about the CFL refs?

Fans are generally unreasonable about pretty much anything and everything, particularly when it affects THEIR team.

Given the limited number of qualified officials that know the Canadian game, the nominal financial incentive to become a CFL official, and the relatively low ranking of officiating in terms of CFL priorities, I do believe the officials receive unreasonable criticism more often than not. Not so much with regard to accountability for mistakes but that they are held to a higher standard of performance and expected perfection than players and coaches or are alleged to be unworthy of the position due to the occasional error.

On field officials are always going to miss a call here and there. I maintain what I have said before on these forums. Most games are about 150 snaps. 147 or 148 of them, no one has anything to complain about. That doesn't mean that those 2 or 3 plays can not be criticized. Once every couple of weeks, a game has 5 or 6 weird calls and again, criticizing that is fair game. But hey, 2 or 3 missed calls in a game is a lot better than the percentage most players have making blocks in a game.

By and large I believe that the officials do a good job, but of course, we should always strive to make them better. It is my belief that no one takes a missed call harder than the guy in the stripes who actually missed the call. I understand that. Officials are human and they are going to make an error or two.

When a fan says 'Referee X always does a lousy job' or 'Referee Y's crew is biased' I just ignore the post. but when someone says 'Referee Z blew that call' and supports why, that is a fair comment.

In my eyes, on field officiating for the most part is not a huge issue. What really bothers me is how much the booth screws up. There is no excuse for an open rule book, multiple angles, slo-mo back and forward, and all the time you need, to screw up a replay. Replay was really improving over the past couple of seasons in my opinion, but this year it has taken a huge step back. The booth has been appalling.