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September 24, 2012

NFL Replacement Refs

I don't think the NFL actually cares about player safety. Exhibit A is the ongoing stalemate with the "real" NFL refs; what I have seen through the first three weeks of the NFL this season is a game that the replacement refs have little control over and games in which the players are hitting on many borderline to illegal shots to see if they can get away with it.

These replacement officials are doing, at best, and adequate job of officiating the game. However, they do not have the respect or control over the more abstract aspects of the game that the NFL referees have; you see them changing their mind after talking to coaches, you see them unsure about calls and being swayed by player emotion, you see them not making calls and assuming a replay will save their indecision, and, the worst, you see them unable to cope or deal with it when players get into a scrum on the field.

If the NFL truly cared about the player safety and putting the best product out there, they would get the NFL refs back on the field as quickly as possible. This would cause the players going for the borderline and illegal hits to step back, it would tell the players they cannot push the limits as far as they are trying to, and would increase player safety accordingly. All this for the sum total cost of approximately 1% of revenue being given to the refs. Seems like a win-win to me.

The replacement refs wound up affecting the outcome in a few different football games. The two most notable are the Detroit/Tennessee game and the Green Bay/Seattle game.

In the Lions/Titans game, the refs made the mistake of giving Tennessee a 27 yard penalty mark-off on what should have been a 15 yard penalty. This moved Tennessee well into easy field goal range and allowed Tennessee to make an easy chip shot for what became the game winner.

Even more directly, the refs missed an obvious offensive pass interference call on Golden Tate, and then ruled "simultaneous possession" on the final play of the game, giving Seattle the victory. Both the non-call of pass interference and the dubious call of simultaneous possession (sure looked like Green Bay caught the ball  and Tate barely had a hand on it) directly affected the outcome of the game, as that was the very last play of the game with no time left on the clock.

In addition, there should have been a replay at least of the final play in the Patriots/Ravens game, as that field goal looked awfully wide right to a lot of people (and also directly affected the final score in the game).

Along with mistakenly giving the 49ers not one but two extra replays, the horrible calls in the Washington game, the multiple game-impacting hits to the head (to the point of knocking the helmets off of some players, but still not called fouls), and the multitude of scrums that the refs didn't stop or call fouls on, and the NFL has a serious problem on their hands.

Have people stopped watching? No, or course not. It is like a car accident on the side of the road -- no matter how much you don't want to see what's there, people still slow down and rubberneck. We're all tuning in not only for the #1 sport in America but now also to see what new screw up the refs can get into.

September 7, 2012

Much Better

The reviews are in and most fact-checking sites I'm seeing are giving Obama's speech pretty good reviews.


I've linked to only one because it seemed representative of the ones I looked at. So, at least, Obama did a pretty good job of telling truths, especially when you compare them to the outright untruths his opponents used. This right here will sway me, as an independent, non-party affiliated voter toward Obama at this state of the campaign, because I feel strongly that campaigners should not be allowed to lie in speeches. So far, that is all I've received from the Republican side.

This is NOT to say I'm thrilled with my choices. I would vote for a strong third-party candidate today if one came up with an actual PLAN for how to do all of the (very similar) things that both Romney and Obama are claiming they will do to turn America around. Neither of these two candidates have actually stated a plan nor the steps they will take to actual enact those plans. Instead, they have simply stated (fairly ephemeral) goals for what they hope to accomplish. A blogger I read often has summarized it nicely, using her past employment as an example.

I am also swayed toward Obama by my health issues, which are covered and cannot be taken away from me by Obama's health care mandates (some of the most important aspects for me come into play in 2013 and 2014). Voting for Romney would (most likely) repeal "Obamacare" and he would create... what exactly? I've been to Mitt's website and listened to his speeches and he has not mentioned what he would replace it with. Which is par for the course, as Obama repeatedly asked for Republican input in creating Obamacare and they refused but never offered an alternative plan or put their ideas out for the American people to review. It may not be great, and there are tweaks and changes that need to be made, but I'll take the bird in the hand over the (so far) non-existent birds in the bush on this one, as it directly affects me.

Lastly, I can't help but think if we had kept the Constitution's original way of electing a President and Vice-President we wouldn't be in this bi-partisan mess we are today. As I have commented before in detail, originally everyone ran for one office: President. The person with the most votes was elected and the person with the second-most votes became vice-president. I believe this was an inherent check and balance as it forced people with differing opinions to work together for the good of the country. It also allowed there to be more parties and diversity in Congress. Looking at it today, there would almost have to be less partisanship if the President and Vice-President were of different parties but working toward the same agendas. And it would also allow the two to go to Congress with a more united front on what needed to be done and why. Congress (and America in general) would likely have more parties and campaigners would have to convince individuals of their plans and goals rather than swaying enough of the other party to vote them into office.

I am, so far, both less than thrilled and less hopeful about this election. At least one party decided not to lie, so I'm not totally without hope at this early stage. Now, let the mud start slinging.