Published on March 30, 2014 4:50 PM by dbo.
A couple weeks ago, the CFL presented the changes the Rules Committee were to vote on for the 2014 CFL Rulebook. Those changes included the addition of both called and non-called pass interference penalties to be challengeable plays for video review as well as other safety, flow and statistic recording changes. The Rules Committee approved all the proposed changes subject to final approval from the league’s board of governors.
The ability to review pass interference calls, a first in any league to review a foul or penalty situation, drew lots of attention. The process, though it has been public and interactive for a few years, was praised. Called “revolutionary”, scribes came out for the PI review addition and former players for and against.
The viewpoint of those for the change is it does something, and a change must be progress and a change for the better. They also seem to indicate if it doesn’t work, the rule can be repealed. I am sure once it is in the rulebook, there will never be a vote to remove it. If it isn’t working, it will be tweaked and adjusted but it will never go away.
Those against breaking ground by adding pass interference to the reviewable play types rely largely on the judgement call argument. From the judgement call sprouts the slippery slope argument on what is next to be included in video review.
In the debate, what I found missing (including from the league’s rule committee), was a practical approach to a radical change. For something this revolutionary, I expect more put into the development and implementation of the rule before it is adopted. We have no information on who proposed the rule (team reps, officials), who drafted the rule and what other options were looked at. It has never been tested in a game situation (reviewing video of old calls is not proper testing) and there is no trial period. Substantial changes to a games rules require testing during the pre-season and adjustments before implementing when the plays count.
A change in the Head of Officiating, criticism of officials over pass interference calls, and one high profile missed call last year and we have a reversal of years of practice with it never being actually tested except in boardroom scenarios. Excitement of the CFL leading this area is non-sensical. The CFL could test it in the pre-season for two years and still be the leader here. There is positive fan reaction, but that will turn as soon as the first call is upheld or overturned against their team, and then they will have another thing to hang their blame on.
I believe in simplicity in defining rules. This addition does not provide that. Reviewable plays, timeouts, the last 3 minutes become substantially harder to explain to anyone new to the game. I don’t believe that the complexity being added is justified by the few necessary times it will help. I’ve said it many times before, but it is time Canadians get used to an imperfect game. I hear lots of criticism on officials south of the border as well as other leagues, so fans need to buck up and focus on the game.
While the CFL has come a long way in being progressive and transparent in its rule changes, it still has to a long way to go before there is the proper discussion of all changes. Something more than a few days notice of the proposed changes, other alternatives and discussion of merits and issues rather than a popularity poll is what is needed.
There are a couple other rule changes I have comments on:
allowing each team’s quarterback to use team Wilson balls rather than the league supplied balls. How did this even get to the table? If some raised an issue with the balls, it should have went to the league’s football operations department, Wilson and adjustments made to the process. Give teams more time to break in the balls, find a solution with Wilson, talk to other leagues about what they do. Giving the teams the ability to bring their own balls does not seem to satisfy the simple requirement for a professional league.
the statistical scoring rule change to count a blocked field goal as a miss. Although I knew this was coming, this is only because of the media (which causes fan) uproar from Rene Paredes record situation. Add to it a difference in the scoring between the CFL and NFL, the CFL is automatically assumed to be wrong. I believe the CFL was right. A blocked field goal is a team failure and a consecutive field goal streak is a personal record. I understand why the league scored it that way. But when you have media out to celebrate failure, having a block not affect the streak became a sticking point, no acceptable explanation from the league on why the rule has always been like that so it was easy to get 7/8ths of the fans behind them.
what happened to the eliminating the convert discussion?