Wednesday, December 30, 2009

T's To Consider for 2010

I honestly can't get past Thierry Henry's double-dutch touch that put France into the World Cup and sent Ireland to the Europa League (well, not really). I mean, I was more than 4,000 miles away from the Stade de France that day, and I saw it clear as day. So did most of the 80,000 people in-house and the millions more like me who were watching the game.

Yet, the guy who had to see it, the guy who should have seen it, the guy who had no excuse for not seeing it, well, he didn't see it.

The referee blew it. There, I said it. Henry cheated, but the referee and his two linesmen are the ones who should be fitted for goat horns. And it's not their fault. There's no redundancy, no failover built into football officiating. No, instead we have three middle-aged men in short pants running with a flag in their hand or a whistle in their mouth in charge of an enterprise worth billions of dollars worldwide. And they get no help, no disaster recovery plan, no checks and balances.

Instead, it's all on them and if they get it wrong, at least we're preserving the human element of football. Nice. Tell that to the Irish.

Other sports have embraced technology and the 21st century and have made a commitment to at least try to get the call right. They're not leaving it to the striped shirts in American football or ice hockey, or God forbid, the Fat Bastard umpires in Major League baseball who can't get down the foul line quick enough to make the right call on home runs. There's too much at stake and it's frankly too big a job for the referee. He needs help and we're here to give it to him.

Inspired by a blog post from Patrick Barclay of the Times of London, here are a few T's To Consider for 2010 (they all start with T -- duh!)

  • Timekeeper: Can we end the charade of the referee holding the game time. Please. The game starts on his whistle but it has to end at 45 minutes, not 48:22 because he called for three minutes of extra time, and shit-I-forgot-to-look-at-my-watch-and-it's-22-seconds-over-and-Liverpool-is-gonna-tie-the-game-if-I-don't-blow-the-whistle-soon. We need a timekeeper. Someone who can talk to the ref via his earpiece. A player goes down, the ref signals the timekeeper to stop the clock. Player gets up, ref signals to start the clock. And oh yeah, WE SEE THE CLOCK IN THE STADIUM. God, it's so amateurish.
  • Transparency: Speaking of the referee's earpiece, how about we get let in on the conversation pal? Who exactly are you talking to? And why? If it's a timekeeper, I'm all for it. Otherwise, you're not Jon Bon Jovi at soundcheck. And while we're at it, let's hear the referee's conversations with the players, turn that mic on brother. And while you're at it, let's hear your voice as you make the call. Offside. Obstruction. Penalty. C'mon, you can do it.
  • Technology: Let's put this one on hold for second. I'm all for video replays and reviews of goal-line and offside disputes, but can we try more officials. How about two more linesmen? And an official behind each goal? Why not?
  • Transfers: Can we impose some limits on transfers if your books are not in shape. I'm mean, I've been an advocate of leagues and federations staying out of business operations for individual clubs, but some parity would be nice and this would be a way of getting some.

And now for two others that aren't T's:

  • Away-Goals Rule: GO AWAY. If it's 4-4 after two legs, don't tell me that your away goals are worth more than my total goals.
  • Shirts and Skins: Jeez, if some metrosexual wants to take off his shirt after he scores a goal, does it matter? I mean, if Hope Solo wants to Brandi Chastain after heading in a game-winner in extra time, are we gonna bemoan her decision to rip off her bulky goalie jersey in a moment of sheer joy? Never! Life is about tradeoffs folks!

Happy Frickin' New Year.

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