Apple's Seedlings

I empathize with those who officiate a sports contest.  I have had some experience umpiring little league games, and I know how difficult it is to see everything that should be seen and ignore everything else.  I know how difficult it is to maintain attention on a game when it seems that all around you have their attention on you.  And I know how important it is to render decisions as fairly as humanly possible when all those around you have lost this perspective.

But one point comes through clearly.  Once an injustice has occurred, there is no just way to correct it.  Any attempt at repairing the damage of a bad decision will adversely affect others in the game.  (In this context, in the effort to wipe out centuries of treating some of its citizens as "second class," the US put in reforms including "equal opportunity" and "affirmative action."  It is no surprise that these led to charges of "reverse discrimination.")

So it is in sports.  Hockey, in particular, is a game in which a lot is going on.  And so much is missed.  Hockey seems to recognize the problems of extrapolating from what is seen to what might have happened.  A call on the ice can only be overturned on review if there is conclusive evidence that the call was wrong. 

So when the referees and league were made aware of how players were violating the rules around the opponent's crease, they gave it special attention.  Good.  When Datsyuk apparently scored a goal in the fourth game of the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2008, they inferred that there had been an infraction.   They must have inferred it since the replays show clearly that it did not occur.  And this is out and out bad officiating.

Then, when Dallas scored the next goal, they missed it again.  A player was clearly in the crease long before the puck got there.  Perhaps they were still smarting from their previous bad call - I don't know.  And later when a player was brought to the ice and spun around into the player who checked him, who was called for the penalty? It wasn't the original checker.

I have a lot of respect for the officials of that game.  They have done a magnificent job in many, many games of a sport which is especially hard to control.  But they blew those calls.  Good players can have bad days.  Good officials can also have bad days. 

When players cease to perform well during a game, they are replaced by others from the "bench."  Perhaps we need a "bench" of reserve officials to take over when the starters lose control?  After a short spell, it could be that the original officials could get back into the game.  Or it might be in the best interest of the competitors and the sport to keep the subs in.


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