Refereeing is a tough job, one that requires precision, focus and thick skin. Comedian Jay Leno once joked that, when he was a kid, he wanted to be a ref but his 20/20 vision was too much of a handicap. It’s a recurring theme in the world of sports: If refs get it wrong, they must have terrible eyesight. Here are some of the most notorious bad calls in recent memory.
At the 2012 London Olympics, the Canadian Women’s soccer team faced the United States in a semifinal match, with the winner moving on to the final for a shot at the gold medal. Up 3-2 in the 80th minute, Canada’s goalkeeper was issued a rare violation for holding the ball for too long. The resulting USA free kick struck a Canadian defender on the arm as she tried to twist out of the way. Ref Christina Pedersen called it a hand ball and gave US superstar Abby Wambach a penalty kick. She scored, tied the match, and the USA won in overtime.
During the NFL officials lockout in 2012, replacement refs were called in to keep the season rolling. Unfortunately, their skills weren’t quite up to the task, leading to a series of bad calls. One such call happened during a week-two matchup between the Cowboys and the Seahawks. When Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had to scramble after a broken play, wide receiver Golden Tate delivered a crushing “crack-back” block to linebacker Sean Lee. But instead of a deserved yellow flag for the offense, Tate wasn’t penalized and the refs punished a different Cowboys linebacker for a light shove out of bounds. Cowboys fans were less than amused.
Hockey refereeing is often under scrutiny for ignoring minor penalties during the playoffs in the spirit of “letting them play.” The reverse happened during game seven of the Blackhawks/Red Wings series when veteran official Stephen Walkom locked his attention on a dust-up between Kyle Quincey and Brandon Saad that ended with both men crashing to the ice. Meanwhile, Blackhawk Andrew Shaw drove deep into Detroit territory and passed to Niklas Hjalmarsson, who scored with just 1:47 left to put the ‘Hawks ahead. Walkom, however, called minor penalties on both Quincey and Saad, and signaled no goal as a result. Fans argued not only had he violated the spirit of the playoffs—especially in game 7—by calling such minor penalties, but wasn’t paying enough attention overall. Any ref worth his salt, they argued, should have seen the Blackhawks rush clear as day.
No ref is perfect, but more than one could benefit from an eye test and might want to consider laser vision correction from LASIK MD. The price is right, the healing time is minimal, and getting the calls right thanks to 20/20 vision will make sports fans very happy.
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