Thursday, October 29, 2015

More @NFL Punishment Buffoonery

Many may think given my (gridiron) football affiliations I would be speaking of the truly preposterous decision of the NFL to actually go forward with its appeal of the deflategate case with the filing of the appellate brief in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Actually I was shocked (shocked I tell you) to learn the NFL has hired Paul Clement to argue the matter. News flash to the Brady camp ... this barrister is no joke and has argued before SCOTUS more than anyone else on earth right now. He argued such cases as ObamaCare and DOMA to name others ... and is likely going to wind up on the very bench he often argues before depending which was the Presidential election goes in 2016, and the health of one Justice Ginsberg. The Brady camp would be wise to hire some higher power staff on their side to match.

But alas, I am not talking about that particular brand of NFL buffoonery, it is the type where the NFL continues to fine players for their "uniform violations" which support good causes. While I wrote about DeAngelo Williams the other day, today it is William Gay and his fine of $5787 for wearing purple cleats to support his mother who was killed in an act of domestic violence.

Oh look, here is a handy list of NFL players who have been arrested for domestic violence in the last couple of years from SI. Yes indeed, we certainly don't want any NFL player to make a positive statement about domestic violence since the league is doing such a good job disciplining its players for it.

Just as a casual reminder regarding the rageaholic Cowboy, Greg Hardy and what he was found guilty of (from SI):

On May 13, Hardy was arrested for communicating threats and assault against his then-girlfriend. Hardy reportedly threw the woman into a bathroom, then dragged her into the bedroom, choked her, picked her up again, and threw her on a couch covered in firearms. He also reportedly threatened to shoot her if she told anyone about the fight.

You want to do something constructive NFL? While you have the cancer scam going in October ... why don't you continue in November with "Stop Domestic Violence" and give everyone purple cleats, gloves, and towels. $h!t you can even make some money on it, like you do the cancer promotion. For the love of all things holy though, stop protecting these thugs, and let players like Gay who have been touched by this crime wear something purple.

To do otherwise continues to deepen the turmoil the NFL finds itself in with regard to player conduct and the absurd punishments it hands out ... which (spoiler alert) will be further degraded by the decision in the 2nd Circuit.

Please oh please let deflategate go to SCOTUS when the NFL gets crushed there ... and please let Justice Scalia write for the majority. #lawgeek

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

End of an era

Abby Wambach announces her retirement from soccer

It’s official: Abby Wambach is retiring.

Soccer’s international leading scorer and one of the greatest players of all time finally made the announcement Tuesday afternoon following the U.S. women's team's visit with President Obama to celebrate the summer's Women's World Cup victory.

During the visit, USA TODAY Sports asked Wambach about her future, and the 35-year-old seemed non-committal.

“I’ve given a lot of thought to it and that’s a good question,” Wambach said. “I think in the coming days, weeks, months, I’ll let you guys know.”

She walked away joking that it could be mere hours before a decision was made. Not long after, Wambach dropped the bombshell. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of USA Today.

Kicking Back Comments: Abby represented herself, her team, and her country well. The Game will miss her. I can only Hope we see some other retirements soon that are long over due.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It was all going so well ... until the riot

Cedarville Meant No Harm, Parents Say After Arrest

CEDARVILLE -- The clash that ended with the arrest of their head football coach for inciting a riot started when his team lined up to shake the other team's hands, said Cedarville parents interviewed Friday.

Those parents were interviewed at the best spot in town to draw a large crowd -- a home football game for Cedarville High School. Friday, their team hosted Marshall.

Parents and players were in Elkins a week earlier. When they left -- their buses escorted by sheriff's deputies -- they knew the game had ended in a ruckus, the parents said. But they thought the incident was over. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of Arkansas Online.

Kicking Back Comments: Take a look at the story, while full of opinion, there are a couple of things that stood out to me ... one very practical thing too.

I had to laugh out loud when I read the following from the article:

"The first sign of any trouble in Elkins was a mid-field incident while the game had less than a minute left to play."

Sorry, but I just don't buy that and while this may have been a sign for sure, I doubt it was the first. As referees we have to obtain a "baseline" of behavior fairly quickly regarding the contest we are refereeing. Intelligence professionals sometimes refer to a "baseline" as the regular happenings in a particular environment. It is when we start to witness excursions from this baseline we should take note.

Sounds cloak and dagger and honestly it sort of is as a substantial part of refereeing is reading people of all types and being able to take necessary action on issues that arise. Take the above as an example. What were the clues that could have indicated something was going to happen? Ask yourself:

Was this a significant match for some reason? 
If yes, what was the reason?

Were any of the participants in a "funk" and this includes the coaches (one of which who was later arrested)?
What is your plan to deal with that?

Even before the match started, what was your "mass confrontation" plan?
Meet as a group and take notes?
Actively try to separate players?

If things go really bad, what is the exfil plan?
Run like heck to the car?
Defend each other?
Call the police?

While this later part may be rare, it is good to think about as frankly when it goes wrong, you don't want to have to think too much, just react and follow a plan you have already previously considered.

Now for the practical tip ... if it's safe, take notes. Here we had a coach who crossed the field to engage the other teams players and as the report goes with racial epithets. This coach was subsequently arrested for his conduct and is up for his court date and possible dismissal from the school he works for. As a referee if we have witnessed something, we need to report it. Our duty to the players does not end until we have left the field and frankly any willful blindness to something like this is shirking one of our most important duties ... to protect the players.

Think about this too, the final act did not play out until the players lined up to say "good game." If you get a whiff that something bad is going to happen, why even have them shake hands? Yeah it's a nice tradition, but when trouble will follow, why do it?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Say it isn't so

Beckenbauer Is Under Investigation by FIFA Ethics Committee

Former German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer is one of 11 current or former high-ranking FIFA officials under investigation by FIFA’s ethics committee, the organization said in a statement on Wednesday.

His case has been passed on to the adjudicatory chamber of the ethics committee, which has the power to ban him from all soccer-related activities. The committee didn’t give a reason for the investigation, but Beckenbauer has been involved in the awarding of at least three World Cups, processes that have drawn intense scrutiny for years. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the WSJ.

Kicking Back Comments: I suppose I should not be surprised, sadly. All these once great institutions and men to me once ... FIFA, IOC, and their boards. All once great seemingly serving the thing we love ...  all now proving to be shams.

So sad.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Monkeys (and men) with small testicles howl loudest

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
For any who think this is a joke (at least the monkeys part), please take a look here from The American Bazaar. There is a real honest to goodness research paper on the topic as well. Yes, the "and men" comment was mine.

For me there is a clear analogy to real life as I am sure we have all met and dealt with people who howl, whine, and frankly bully others to get their way. I am in fact dealing with one such individual right now and it is really draining, even having already seen through the ruse to what the end game is about.

So too is true in refereeing. Now we may have dealt with players that are loud and unsavory, but my comments are not about them, they are about us as referees.

I shared the other day the referee who was overseeing Jr.'s match and after a foul, when he was asked about the decision, out came the reply "... because I said so." There dear friends is a howler monkey with small testicles.

"Words can wound" is an oft used expression that I personally think is overly dramatic in some situations, a refereeing context being one of them. What words can do however is paint a pretty accurate picture of the mental state of a referee.

Take the example from Jr.'s match. If the referee had simply said, "I saw a push" or "I thought it was a handball" even if dead wrong about the decision it will at least have the player left to feel like "... well he saw something." By slamming the door shut however with his "... because I said so." answer, the players at that point lost all respect, and even continued to ask knowing it would bother the referee further.

Keith Hackett, FIFA referee, and an all round talented guy, penned a great article from his series, "You Are The Ref," titled "The Importance of Presence as a Referee." In the article he talks about things like voice control, posture, empathy, and my personal favorite "sparkle." All of which are critical not just in the big parks around the world, but even more so in the little ones.

Don't be a monkey with small balls and scream because you can. Be the leader inside the field and when (not if) you get challenged, treat the players with the respect you would want to get. You may be surprised to find after such an exchange, they will be more willing to give that respect back.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Get Serious, Or Go Home

As many of you regular readers know I have a high school age soccer player in the house named (for purposes here) "Jr." He is what I would call a serious soccer player in so far as he has committed to training for 2 hours a day, 5 days a week and there is a match or two in there as well. On at least one of his off days, he also referees youth matches.

Over the last month or so I have enjoyed watching his matches both that he plays in and that he referees. Many times we chat on the way to the pitch before he does referee and we talk about how he feels or what his goal is for the particular day.

Last weekend our conversation turned very frank in that he was really frustrated. As I probed the feelings a bit more, the main source of his frustration was how serious he takes playing and refereeing, only to have many of the referees who come out to his match, not take it seriously at all.

He was right.

In one match I saw a referee miss a goal line decision because he was standing in the midfield circle and essentially wore a path from one side of the circle to the other. In another match I witnessed the referee asking parents on a touchline for help ... truly asking for help with a decision. What recently took the cake for me was a referee when asked about a decision, stated his reasoning as "... because I said so."

This was when I turned to "Madame X", my ever patient wife, and asked out loud if she would mind if I got dismissed as a spectator from a match. I did not get an answer.

Trust me I get that there is a lack of good referees for all high schools at all levels and theoretically the best referees are doing the best matches (cough), but for the love of the game you have to at least try. Just try.

These kids are spending hundreds of hours in a season practicing and playing, and for a referee to not even try is pathetic. I'm not even saying to get it right all the time, or even most of the time, just make the effort. I'm not even sure if these folks even know how bad they truly are.

So what to do? Share with the league how terrible these referees are? Try to work one on one with them to get them to "step up?" Implement a system like in US Colleges where the coaches in essence choose who they want to referee their matches?

I dunno, but to allow such baboonery on a regular basis is criminal for the kids who are working hard to earn their playing time.

Next time you go out to do a match that you think will not be challenging ... challenge yourself to be "spotless." Perfect mechanics, perfect decorum, perfect decisions. In a sense practice "virtuosity" where some would call it the skill of performing the common, uncommonly well.

Above all, try your best, and if you can't do that, do us all a favor and just stay home.

Friday, October 16, 2015

When dissent ... isin't

Let's take a closer look at Jose Bautista's epic bat flip

Jose Bautista is often known as Joey Bats. Now people are calling him "Joey Bat Flip," after his epic celebration capped a monstrous three-run home run in the seventh inning of Wednesday's deciding Game 5 of the American League Division Series.

With the hit, Bautista helped send the Blue Jays to the American League Championship Series. With the flip, Bautista created an image that rivals Joe Carter's 1993 World Series-winning blast. ...

See the whole article here, courtesy of ESPN.

Kicking Back Comments: As referees we need to let players emote. Just as players need to let referees emote too and not think that we are all robots. Take a look here at an interesting article about referee communication ... some of which you have seen here at Kicking Back before.

If we take a look at Bautista's reaction, it is completely understandable in context. Big game, big hit. If instead he flipped his bat in the 1st inning if he crushed one over the wall, then a different reaction from the umpire would be necessary involving a dressing down I would imagine.

As referees we need to keep the contest in context to best determine a course of action. Is this a big game? Is this a big game for the particular player for some reason? (1st match back after a long injury? Last match before retirement?)

We need to allow such a player some latitude in expressing their emotions about the situation. If we don't, well, frankly we are robbing the fun out of the sport for them and that is not why we are here.

Consider the opposite number, Dyson in this case, the pitcher who just got lit up for a 3 run homer. He's upset as it is for giving up those runs in such a critical scenario, now add to that a gleeful Bautista and we have an issue. #10 from the Blue Jays did not help by hanging around and egging the crowd on which of course lead to the benches clearing.

In the same way we allowed Bautista to emote, we should allow Dyson to as well. The real magic is now not letting that brushfire spread wildly between the teams. It can be very powerful to let a player, or players have their say with each other and come in as a referee and say, "OK, are we done now?"

Like anything else, it is a fine line and a balancing act to be sure. We may even need to take a barb or two as referees in the process. I would opine however, it is a small price to pay to let some of the air out of the tire to finish with 22.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Good Guy Award: @DeAngeloRB

Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports
So many of us have been touched by the ravages of cancer either ourselves, or through family or friends. In this modern age, there is no concept of "six degrees of separation" regarding this awful disease.

DeAngelo Williams, who is currently playing as a running back for the Steelers, was recently told by the NFL he was not allowed to wear pink all year (courtesy USA today) to both honor his mother who he lost to the disease, but also as a reminder to women that it is critical to get tested as early detection is key to many such cancers.

Where I really start to appreciate Mr. Williams is his persistence in keeping his real goals of wearing pink, not the marketing campaign the NFL performs annually to bolster its image. Mr. Williams is steadfast in his belief and has gone so far as to dye his hair and paint his nails pink as well as provide funding for women to get screened out of his own pocket.

No so much for the NFL in the moth of October where their behavior is nothing short of a pink clad scam. I offer the following:

Take a look here from an article from Jezebel:
"Since the program's inception four years ago, the NFL has raised $3 million for breast cancer. In 2009, the League made $8.5 billion. Last year, they made $9.5 billion. Commissioner Roger Goodell has set a revenue goal of $25 billion per year by the year 2027. A million per year out of between $8.5 and $9.5 billion in revenues? Pardon me while I don't slobber all over the NFL's pink-drenched marketing campaign."

Okay, that is one opinion ... here are a few others:

"In fact, the NFL's claim of 100 percent proceeds from auction and 100 percent proceeds from retail has translated to an average of just $1.1 million every year since they partnered with ACS six years ago. That's less than .01 percent of the approximately $10 billion the league made in revenue last year. And almost five times less than what ACS' other partners, such as Walgreens, manage to donate to the same program—a program that, again, gives zero dollars to cancer research."

"Approximately 8 percent of sales from pink NFL merchandise go toward cancer research, according to a report this week from Business Insider."

... and my personal favorite from Business Insider, "Is The NFL Profiting Off Of Breast Cancer?"

So from all of these it seems fairly clear that the NFL is actually profiting from the disease and while I thought my view of them could not get any dimmer, it just did.

Listen, I get why the NFL can't support having players wearing what they want all the time, it would descend an already morally challenged league into visual chaos. There are uniform standards to uphold and sponsors pay big money for their stuff to be seen. I understand.

All credit to Mr. Williams however in appropriately thumbing his nose at the NFL with changing his hair color to honor his mom and also staying within the "uniform standards." Where the NFL just pays lip service to a devastating disease and is indeed making a few bucks in the process, Mr. Williams to me gets a good guy award for letting his actions speak louder than any words the NFL propaganda machine is spouting.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Oh Canada

Image Credit:
Well, the US has kept its Olympic hopes alive and the US MNT coach employed for the moment, with a 2 - 0 against Canada in Sandy Utah.

Now, we are not out of the woods just yet as the US U23 still needs to beat Columbia in March, in Rio no less. I'll say too that if the US Qualifies for the Olympics, I think Jurgen's job is safe through the 2018 World Cup. 

That said he has his work cut out for him as our efforts to qualify for the World Cup really start in November. A full listing can be seen here for all CONCACAF.

... and if you think the pressure is not mounting on our NMT coach, just take a look at recent comments from Landon Donovan.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A MUST SEE for parents of US Soccer referees

A worthy 5 minutes of your time for parents of referees of all types, but especially US Soccer referees. Take a look here, you will not be disappointed.

Does the result matter?

Over this past weekend the beginnings of MLB playoffs are unfolding. One such series going on now is the NLDS between the Dodgers and the NY Mets.

As most of us saw over the weekend we had a play at second base where a player made, at best, a reckless challenge into a second baseman in an attempt to break up the subsequent play to first base. In reality however the sliding player caused the second baseman to break his leg, ending the remainder of his season.

As a result, the player was allowed to continue to play in this game, the play was challenged, put under review, and upheld that the player who slid into second base was safe and in fact did nothing wrong. Subsequent to the game, the sliding player was suspended for (2) games, and that decision is being appealed currently.

Now, without regard to this particular players' history of similar events (which we will deal with later), there are a few burning questions I have:

1. Could the sliding player have been ejected during the game for the conduct?

2. If the second baseman was not injured, could this decision still have been reached?

3. Was it appropriate for the league to step in and issue the suspension?

4. Was the suspension appropriate given the result of the injury?

Now before I get into this, let it be known I am not a baseball guy, so please go easy. This is from a casual reading of the Official Baseball Rules, and frankly my interpretation may be way off ... then again, that is my point.

You can take a good look at the video here from CBS Sports. Do yourselves a favor and turn off the sound so as to not listen to the bozos commenting ... my favorite part was went one of these enlightened ones said by the shortstop turning his back, it made it his fault.

#1: I think the answer is yes that the Baseball Rules support an ejection. That is to say that can do it.
This lies in 8.01(d) and reads:

(d) Each umpire has authority to disqualify any player, coach, manager or substitute for objecting to decisions or for unsportsmanlike conduct or language, and to eject such disqualified person from the playing field. If an umpire disqualifies a player while a play is in progress, the disqualification shall not take effect until no further action is possible in that play.

Now the $64,000 question is if this type of behavior is considered unsporting. Look and the video and decide.

Now take a look at this video in which every single player was sent off either straight away or by a 2nd caution:

Not a lot of difference in some cases in my head. At the above are from a sport that expects tackling at some level.

#2: Is a resounding YES!!!!! Why wait for a serious injury to dismiss a player for such reckless play. Umpires in the baseball game could have, as could any soccer referee if such a tackle does not result in an injury.

#3: Joe Torre has to do something before it gets bat crap ugly ... which it still may by the way. Also while Torre cites 5.09 (a) (13) for the cause, I was thinking 6.01 (a) (6) and run the baserunners ass out under 8.01 (d).

#4: Here is the part that really gets my goat. If the player was not injured, or only mildly so the suspension would never have happened. It literally took a broken leg for MLB to do something about this.

I'll say honestly, in a Rule Book that ejects players for corked bats and arguing with an umpire, players seem immune for this kind of bush league crap that had the effect of removing a star player for the remainder of the NLDS. Now did he mean to hurt the player, I doubt it, but that does not factor into the equation. His clearly reckless act of sliding into the back of the plant leg of the fielder should. It was reckless to the nth degree and to me, the player should have been run right there on the spot. Instead, he was actually called safe and allowed to play.

While I am no fan of a lex talonis form of justice in some cases, two games is not nearly enough for this type of intentional play. Intentional to hurt, no. Intentional to break up the play, even in reckless fashion, yes. Let the player sit the rest of the season.

Here is where our bothers in MLB (no sisters yet?) need our help. These guys are simply not capable of determining what a foul like that is, and honestly should get trained as if baserunners are going to do this type of cheap $h!t, umpires should be trained to recognize it and run a player who does something like what we saw the other night.

Oh yeah ... he's done this before too, to the same player. Just look here.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Make That Dos a Tres

Well then ... I was in the ball park, but underestimated the frenetic nature of the contest in the closing minutes.

There has been a bunch of commentary on this match easily "googlable" on the web ... let me add a few thoughts to the mix from a variety of perspectives:

1. While even for 45' after that is was nearly all Mexico with the run of play. Yes, the US came back in spectacular fashion, but frankly it was Mexico's night despite Jurgen saying " ... we played them even." Yes I know he said in the first half before the Jurgen lovers come at me ... but why say it at all when the US was chasing for every minute after halftime.

2. Salvadorian referee Joel Aguilar did a fine job last night. I had the pleasure of watching him work live in Foxboro when the US played Brazil in the 4-1 drumming the US received. As we saw play was frenetic and was indeed the "war" I had suggested it was going to be. He did a tremendous job in the face of that pressure and I believe did well. That said, were there things he could have changed, you bet, both ways, but for me, the US nor Mexico should have any issue with the refereeing for this match.

3. Klinesman took a swipe at one of the USs' best referees, Mark Geiger during his excuse making, "it's not my fault" post match press conference. In his comments he stated that "The Gold Cup was influenced by poor referee decisions. That's why we were here tonight." (For any not familiar with the controversy, take a look here, courtesy of Bleacher Report)

Is he serious? This is akin to saying it is the referees fault we lost today. This is our National Team Coach?!?

News flash, it would not matter who we played the other night, the US is not playing well, and more specifically is not being coached any better than previous coaches if we dive into the statistics. Is it really worth the $2.5M we (crap, I with some of my registration fee) is paying him?

Just to pour some salt in the wound, take a look at USMNT fans hate Jurgen Klinsmann because he won't stop lying from SB Nation. It would seem clear I do not stand alone in my thinking.

Tick Tock President Gulati ... now would be a great time to make a move on a coach.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

My Prediction: Uno a Dos

I hate to make that prediction, but the USA MNT is just not playing well. Despite the emotion swirling around the match later today, and whenever the US plays Mexico at any level, I think the US, while playing at the Rose Bowl is essentially playing an away match.

Don't get me wrong, it may be close for a bit, but ultimately I think MEX will pull it out. If it is not even that close ... well ... that is really bad.

I'll say too ... if the US does not win today ... I think Jurgen is in some deep crap as coach. Yes I know, Sunil has said he is on board through the next World Cup, but realistically, I think the time is now if we make a move on a coach.

Uno a Dos, por Mexico.

Reaction and news on same tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Good Riddence

FIFA President Sepp Blatter and Other Top Officials Suspended

The leadership of world soccer’s governing body plunged into chaos on Thursday as three of the game’s most powerful figures, including Sepp Blatter, the longtime president of FIFA, were suspended amid a corruption investigation by the Swiss authorities.

In addition to Mr. Blatter, Michel Platini, who is a FIFA vice president and the head of European soccer’s governing body, and Jérôme Valcke, FIFA’s secretary general who was already on disciplinary leave, were “provisionally banned” from the sport for 90 days by FIFA’s independent ethics committee.

By Thursday evening, Mr. Blatter, who has led FIFA since 1998 and worked at the organization since 1975, had been driven away from the organization’s headquarters in Zurich — perhaps for the last time — having filed an official appeal against what he contended was brusque, and unfair, treatment. 

See the whole story here, courtesy of the NYT.

Kicking Back Comments: Well ... we knew the day was coming and I for one can only hope Sepp never returns to FIFA again. It is my hope at the end of the 90 days (January 8th 2016) he is in leg irons somewhere. All of them, in leg irons.

My thoughts are turning to what is next however. I'm not sure that everyone expected such sweeping actions (kudos to the US DOJ for starting the first domino) as we are left with a substantial vacuum in place.

These next steps need to be considered carefully as how the deck is stacked over the next year or so will significantly determine how the next 40 years of football are governed ... close to the the reminder of my lifetime.

Where It All Starts

Recently we were treated to a fantastic perspective from Paul Levy regarding High School athletics in his article "Part of the school day." In this article he details the scenario where as referees we may occasionally run into a coach, who is also responsible for athletes that are students, and acts in a way contrary to what they should be teaching as educators. It is a worthy read that I commented on as it is a hot topic as we entered the high school soccer season.

I bring this up because, as a juxtaposition, I have recently been witness to an event that we as referees should remember when it comes to dealing with players ... many coaches take their role as educators very seriously.

There was a recent event with a player on Jr.'s high school team where a player was admonished by a referee and cautioned. While I was not there, from what was described to me, the caution was for dissent.

Now for many you would think the story ended there (and as a referee sometimes I left a field thinking it did) boy would I have been wrong in this case.

Just the other day I received an email both from the parent and the coach of the player making an apology and assuring the whole team (or family as he called it) knew the behavior was not acceptable and we (the team) will work together on it. I was truly heartened by the notes. Keep in mind, I was not the referee, Jr. is a teammate to this player!!

It was amazing to see a group of people own up to what happened, not make any excuses, and gather themselves to make it better next time out. No one in their right mind could ask for anything more.

I was personally humbled by the comments shared as it showed respect for the referee for being subjected to the behavior, solidarity for the team to work together, and compassion for the individual player who can learn from the whole thing.

As referees we need to remember that when we share 80 minutes of the road with some of these young men and women, we are not seeing the whole picture. We are not the first nor last line of defense when it comes to guarding the integrity of The Game. Today I was again reminded parents and coaches have a significant hand to play in there and are far more involved than we are in our role as referee. #respect

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Botched or Brilliant?

By now for anyone who is even casually connected to American pop culture, you have heard of the "blown call" from Monday Night Football. Some may even now know who Greg Wilson is.

Much has been made about the rule that was apparently violated Rule 12, Section 4, Article 1(b), where a player may not "bat" a ball out of the end zone (I am simplifying here).

Take a look at the video here from SB Nation and a spectacular shot of what the Back Judge Greg Wilson saw.

Public outrage aside about how "bad" a call this is, I think there are a few obtuse points worth mentioning that most have not stated so far.
  • Mega kudos to Kam Chancellor, who delivered the hit to cause the fumble and do so before the ball crossed the plain of the goal line. This was a great football play and a rules controversy is sadly overshadowing a phenomenal play in crunch time. #respect
  • It is more clear than ever to me that the players, coaches, and staff at that level do not understand the rules of football, with a few notable exceptions. Stories are out now that the guilty player himself did not know the rule, there was no uproar on the sideline about it, or talk of it in the locker rooms until well after the fact, and the TV analysis, when they finally caught on was ... embarrassing. Note to all younger referees, the words "I used to be a pro" mean absolutely nothing in so far as knowledge or application of the LOTG go. This was proven painfully true again last night.
  • I happen to think Greg Wilson is a great referee for making the right call. SB Nation allowed for only two possibilities on the matter. (1) Wilson didn't know the rule. or (2) Wilson incorrectly felt that Wright's strike of the ball wasn't obvious. This article also notes that the Director of Officiating was ducking under #2 ... and for him that was really the only choice. I believe there is a 3rd option that existed ... and it was Wilson in essence played an "advantage." Now, understanding that no such construct exists officially in the NFL rules, we see it exercised all the time with fouls like pass interference, some are flagged, most are not and this largely goes to if an advantage was gained or not. Here we have the case that the ball was on the way out from the fumble. There was little doubt that was the case. Even with the players batting the ball (and he did bat the ball) it would have made no difference to what would have occurred next. Why then, if the foul would serve to give a significant and inappropriate advantage to the team who legitimately fumbled the ball, would we do that?
For me Wilson actually did the game (royally speaking) a great service by not punishing the trivial or obscure to many and as such altering the outcome. Most are seeing it the other way, including my friends at FootballZebras ... some even saying that the odds shifted ~%75 with this call ... for me it was courageous and on the grander scale completely correct.

Most clearly do not feel that way, but to me, they are dead wrong.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Upon Further Review ...

Hope Solo's domestic violence case reinstated

Hope Solo, star goalkeeper of the U.S. Women’s national team, will face domestic violence charges after an appeals court on Friday reversed a decision to throw out the case.

Controversy about the charges flared during the World Cup, when Solo helped lead the team to the title and responded by saying she was the victim in the incident and the case had been dismissed. But now she will be facing charges yet again. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of USA Today.

Kicking Back Comments: This was a completely predictable outcome and while I called it such at the time, it crystallizes Solo's lawyers mumblings after the initial dismissal as the drivel I knew it to be. Dismissal on procedural grounds ... and clearly poor ones given the restatement above ... is not innocence of any type.

Solo like any other is due her day in court but I can only hope this spells the end of Hope representing the US National Team if she is found guilty. I also hope US Soccer does not contort itself into a pretzel again to make sure she plays in the Olympics if she is found guilty.

Her lawyer did a good job of laying down enough smoke for Sunil to get her on a 30 day suspension. If she is found guilty however, I hope he dismisses her ... best goalkeeper in the world or not.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Dear @CocaCola @McDonalds @Visa @Budweiser please grow a spine and defund @FIFA

Coca-Cola and McDonald’s lead calls for Fifa’s Sepp Blatter to stand down

Four of Fifa’s leading sponsors – Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Visa and Budweiser – have demanded that its embattled president, Sepp Blatter, step down immediately in the face of a continuing corruption crisis.

The dramatic intervention on Friday night from four of Fifa’s biggest backers hugely increases the pressure on the 79-year-old after Swiss prosecutors last week opened criminal proceedings against him. ...

See the whole story here, courtesy of the Guardian.

Kicking Back Comments: Dear big money sponsors ... if you want to get Sepp to step down, suspend all funding until he does. Full stop.

Enough screwing around. If you are going to threaten, follow through, don't just hang it out there as if you do you will take the risk of being seen as inept as Blatter's leadership.