There's been much discussion of officiating in several game threads. I thought maybe a central thread would be appropriate.
The past couple of weeks have seen some really boneheaded mistakes by several of the crews. Whether the calls change the final result is debatable, but they are definitely affecting the games. They are certainly affecting the league's credibility.
Apologists will say "it all evens out". My problem is that it shouldn't have to "even out". The league should be getting it right way more than they do.
I know it's a tough job, and I know I couldn't do it at a pro level. I couldn't be a pro player, either, but that doesn't stop me from being able to recognize elite skill when I see it. Same with officiating. And the officiating this year is not elite.
I don't care how bad the refs are In other leagues, I'm only talking about the CFL here. And right or wrong, the CFL has a perception problem when it comes to officiating. Personally, I think the problem is deserved.
Rather than getting into team-based rah-rah sessions, or "this guy has it in for team x", let's recognize that the guys in stripes are doing the best they can.
Let's talk about solutions. What can the CFL do to support its officials and bring them up to the same level as the players?
Personally, I think they should be full-time employees during the season at least. Pay them enough to live on so they don't need to spend 40 hours a week at a regular job. Let them use that time to train, to prepare, to watch game film and evaluate. We wouldn't expect players to perform at a competitive level without these tools, so why do we expect our officials to be able to show up on game day and be magically ready?
Let's get all the crews together every week to train together. Preferably for more than a day at a time. This can only help with consistency, as they will see the same film and listen to the same analysis. This, again, would require they be full time CFL employees, as no one could get away from a regular job for the properly required time.
Let's build a national officiating program from the grass roots up. This may already exist, and if so, augment it. Baseball and hockey both have such programs. Can they be emulated?
I liked the exchange between CFL, NFL and NCAA officials. Pooling resources makes for better training and a bigger talent reserve to pull new officials from.
I'm sure there are other, better ideas out there. If you have one, share it.
I fear if we don't fix this, the league will continue to suffer and may slip into oblivion.