Sure, it was exciting. Yes, it was different.
But it sucked.
I seldom quote myself—bloggers can be self-involved enough without going that far—but this is what I said about the replacement refs on Sunday:
Finally, there's the fairness issue. One reason I watch sports is because everybody gets held to the same rules...unlike in life, where unfairness abounds and people get away with all kinds of nastiness and skullduggery. If I start feeling like the outcomes of football games have to take into account all sorts of blown calls and blatant cheating, I'm just not sure how I'm going to feel about that.
Well, be careful what you wish for. Because now I know.
Great game, right? Except for the fact that it was decided on bogus calls. There were mistakes, sure ("It's a touchdown!" "No it isn't!" "It's 3rd and inches on the one-and-a-quarter!" "No it isn't! It's first and goal on the one!" etc.). And the replacement refs tried their best to control the game by flagging everything except illegal contact, which they apparently don't know is a rule. But to flag everything, you've got to be able to tell what's a penalty and which player committed it. If you can't tell the difference, then it doesn't help to try to be strict.
Nicely managed ending to that game, wasn't it? This entire season has an asterisk by it already, if you ask me. The results are contaminated. The refereeing isn't just poor, it's atrocious, and the result are out-of-control melees that are a disgrace to the sport. (I looked up the word "melee." It's pronounced "may-lay" and it means "a violent free-for-all." Works here.)
The fake refs are essentially retraining the players—teaching them that they can get away with a lot more cheating, and retraining them to play dirtier and more dangerously. (My prediction: before too many more weeks go by we're going to see a crippled knee or two, and players out for the season—or for life—due to injuries from illegal blocks or tackles. Remember where you read that.) It's getting so bad that it actually occurred to me last night to wonder if the real refs are going to be able to get the players back under control again when they return.
The real pity was that it was a tight and hard-fought and very interesting game for about 45 minutes. Green Bay got its ass completely kicked in the first half but also mostly shut down the Seattle offense, and then McCarthy made radical adjustments at the half and the Packers neutralized the overpowering rush and clawed their way back into it. Too bad so many drives in the fourth quarter were decided by missed calls or wrong calls, because it would have been really interesting to see who would have won the game that had been underway, the game that should have been. We'll never know.
Just a disgraceful game. I looked up the word "travesty," too, and that one means "any grotesque or debased likeness or imitation."
In this case, of pro football. Or should we start putting that word "pro" in quotes?
UPDATE Thursday a.m.: The lockout has ended, and I can go back to being a football fan again this weekend. Sigh of relief.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Craig: "I live in Chicagoland and I am a Bears fan, meaning my two favorite teams are the Bears and whoever is playing the Packers. But...I watched the slow motion over and over again as we all did, and cannot figure out how it was ruled a Seahawks touchdown. Further, it is completely beyond me how the review booth saw it the same way. Some tweeter quoted on ESPN said it was the first time in NFL history a QB threw a game winning interception. That would be PIYP funny, except that the Packers were truly and clearly cheated out of a win."
Mike replies: Rumors: that the review from the booth is what Aaron Rodgers is most furious about (he can't speak freely or he'll be fined), and even Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch thinks Seattle lost the game.
Featured Comment by c.d.embrey: "I stopped caring about the NFL when 'Monday Night Football' hired Dennis Miller as a commentator. This is a good demonstration of the 'Law of Unintended Consequences'—I've never watched another NFL game, including Super Bowls, since. I wonder how many people will stop being fans because of the 'amatuer refs' fiasco? When I stopped jonesing for the NFL, it gave me a lot more time to do something useful with my limited time."
Mike replies: Dennis Miller can do that to you. His great gift—and it's rare—is to be a reactionary idiot while at the same time sounding like he's smart.
More generally, I've always wondered about this sort of thing. American Airlines sponsored the televising of a tennis circuit I really appreciated way back in the '70s, and I flew American whenever I possibly could for years. I also hold grudges. If some company or organization does something really stupid or venal or shoddy, I remember it and act accordingly. There are three or four companies whose products I simply refuse to buy—don't care about the details, I just refuse. And I refused to watch baseball for three or four years after the '94–'95 strike—it just completely disgusted me that a couple of hundred very, very lucky guys who play games for a living couldn't figure out how to divvy up several billion dollars between them. Not that baseball noticed I was gone.
Yet there doesn't even seem to be a term for this phenomenon, and little discussion of it. What's the opposite of "consumer loyalty?"
Featured Comment by speed: "On the bright side...you got a blog post out of it."