The CFL's Penalty Problem

Just came across some numbers on Twitter from CFL News…

Holding penalties are up a whopping 50%!!! over last year at the same time. Total penalties up 30%. Surely, the players have not changed that drastically where they all decided that the rules were meant to be broken. It falls on the refs. There have been some VERY marginal calls, as well as just ludicrous penalties (15 yd for Bakhari motioning for a flag, for example). The games are becoming longer and longer and harder to watch. It’s become second nature now to check for a flag before celebrating a big play, and it’s totally ruining the viewing experience.

What can the CFL do about it?

time to bring in the replacement refs.

seriously though. Slimjim called it perfectly when he questioned about the refs calling holding on plays on opposite side of play. its out of control.

keep the status quo. eventually the players will learn to play within the rules.

Precisely. Although I still occasionally have an issue with specific calls (e.g. compare the Contact on a Receiver called against Gable a couple of weeks ago with the two cases this past weekend where BC receivers ran straight into our DBs, lack of UR calls for some head shots), most of the penalties called are deserved. The players have to smarten up and adjust their play to be within the rules as called by the officials. As long as the officials are consistent (see above), then the players will get there. And the teams that figure out the new limits earlier will have the advantage over the teams that are late in adjusting.

And as for the penalty on Grant for gesturing for a flag, the players have been told not to do that. I have noticed that some players have figured out a way around this - using the same gesture of throwing a flag, but looking at their coach instead of at the official. It gets the point across that they think the wrong call was made, but has the not-so-subtle difference of being a request for the coach to challenge it rather than a demand that the official change his mind. Smart.

Austin has had it with his players taking penalties!

Austin vows to crack down on penalties

by Steve Milton

[b]Kent Austin says repeat offenders will pay a price, but one of his players kind of wishes the coach had more sentencing power than that.

The boss is just like the team's customers when it concerns the flood of penalized misdemeanours that have beset his 1-5 team: he hates it and wants something done about it.

"(We) have to have a little bit more mental and emotional discipline during the game," Austin said of his team leading the league in both penalty frequency and acreage thereby assessed. "And where we see patterns of behaviour in guys who are repeat offenders, they're going to lack playing time. We've put the responsibility on each coach to keep his guys disciplined and that they know the ramifications."

The Cats have lost four times by a touchdown or less, and while it's always an inaccurate science to attribute points lost or gained to specific infractions, surely a penalty or two fewer at the right time would have impacted the record positively.

Brian Simmons, who's been playing well at guard on an increasingly confident offensive line, says reducing the penalty calls is a personal, not structural, responsibility.

"Honestly, it comes down to the player, there's nothing the coaches can really do," says Simmons, who has incurred three flags this season.

"Personally, I know a lot of player-union guys will be against this, but if I'm completely honest I wish we could be fined for it. When we lose so many games, so close ... and then you look at the penalties. We need to be more sound."

Simmons noted that, to his knowledge, nobody on offence jumped offside during Tuesday's return to practice in preparation for Saturday's home date with the Calgary Stampeders. And, among all the possible reasons for penalties, one he won't accept is that the Tiger-Cats are the youngest team in the league with the most first-year players.

"There's no excuses," he says.

"We all played football before we got here."

Austin was asked what creates penalty surplus, and before answering said there was one factor he would not talk about. That, one assumes, likely has something to do with the folks with their fingers on the flags.

"Others are: a lack of focus at particular times of the game, getting too frustrated because of your desire to do well and to win; and letting your focus on things that are really not in your control, to build up."[/b]