Rickter Scale: For whom the whistle tolls

The Rickter Scale is a weekly column

Rick Stiebel/Columnist

I’m angrier than an anteater with a stuffy nose and a bad sinus infection.

It’s been days since a couple of dinosaur dung-sized calls by the refs in the Monday night football game; I’m painfully aware there’s no cure for the ire that still seethes within. I’m even more cognizant of the fact that people who aren’t in football pools cannot comprehend why I’m ranting today because there is no logical explanation.

There is no clinical analysis for why millions of people care so passionately about what unfolds on a field thousands of miles away, or how their emotions are intrinsically linked to players they have no tangible connection to. You can make a convincing case that it really shouldn’t matter that much, and most academics would agree. I wouldn’t suggest running that by fans of the New Orleans Saints, however.

The bride remains in mourning eight months after her team’s trip to the Super Bowl was hijacked by a textbook demonstration of pass interference.

That penalty at a critical time was evident to everyone watching, except those wearing black and white striped shirts and whistles around their necks.

READ MORE: Rickter Scale

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who knocks down $35 million a year to oversee that sort of debacle, decided to add the option for coaches to challenge both offensive and defensive pass interference calls in the wake of last year’s disaster. Problem solved, you say? Unfortunately, what has transpired this season so far begs to differ.

Almost every game includes a long review of a play during which the ex-players and ex-referees every network has hired – yes it’s so bad it’s come to that – explain what should be the correct call. While this plays out, someone somewhere in the league office eventually weighs in with the final word, often much to the disbelief of the experts involved in the sideshow.

And that, whether you follow sports or not, brings us to the pachyderm plugging up the parlour because there’s a lot more at stake than the crushed feelings of fans appalled by a particular call. Millions of dollars are up for grabs each week on bets both legal and otherwise, and where that money winds up should concern us all. Especially if the final decision is influenced in any way by a 300-pound guy named Lefty hovering over six computer screens in the basement of a restaurant in New York.

The NFL took its first furtive steps toward crawling into bed with gamblers after a Supreme Court decision in 2018 paved the way and the NFL’s conscience. If you’re into convoluted conspiracy theories, that was right around the time the league okayed the Raider’s move to Vegas. Was the reason the league tilted in that direction because of the billions a year wagered illegally? Or did the NFL decide to roll the dice simply because they wanted a piece of the action?

I get that referees will make mistakes, but they’re getting tougher to swallow on any given Sunday, Monday or Thursday. Something is terribly wrong with the games when more fans spend their time talking about bad calls instead of great plays.

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Esquimalt council approves building, dog areas for Gorge Park

$7 million in funding for waterfront improvements goes to multipurpose building and dog park

PHOTOS: Trangender flag raised for first time ever outside of B.C. Legislature

Nov. 20 marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, honouring those who have been murdered

Plant-based pizza restaurant to open its doors in Victoria this December

Virtuous Pie has locations in Vancouver, Toronto and Portland

BC Ferries’ two new hybrid vessels set sail for B.C. from Romania

Two Island Class ferries to be in use by 2020

Ocean swim challenge shines spotlight on Crystal Pool plight

Ultra-marathon swimmer sends tongue-in-cheek invite to Victoria council

B.C. politicians view supermodel’s transition journey on Transgender Day

Liberal MLA Jane Thornthwaite and New Democrat MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert appear in the documentary

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you plan on making any purchases on Black Friday?

We’ve all seen the images. Shoppers rioting outside of a store in… Continue reading

1898 Yukon gold rush photo featuring Greta Thunberg look-alike sends internet into tailspin

Jokes erupted this week after a 120-year-old photo taken by Eric A. Hegg surfaced from archives

Distracted driving tickets not for ICBC revenue, B.C. minister says

Minister Mike Farnworth calls SenseBC analysis ‘nonsense’

CN Rail strike and lack of trucking alternatives stoke forest industry fears

Companies calling on the federal government to ‘do everything in its power’ to end the strike

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveils new Liberal cabinet

Pivotal role in his new cabinet for a minority-government era goes to Chrystia Freeland

B.C. woman puts call out for 10,000 personal, heartfelt Christmas cards for the homeless

Christmas Card Collective enters into third year of making spirits bright

Most Read