Karen lost a mil, but the CFL lost cy­berspace

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - STEVE MILTON

Is this what the CFL was an­tic­i­pat­ing when it se­ri­ously amped up its com­mit­ment to so­cial me­dia?

That the same cy­berspace that could at­tract a younger de­mo­graphic to the league would turn on it like an Old West mob on a horse thief ?

That even the least Twit­ter-savvy mem­ber of the older part of its fan base sym­pa­thizes with #WhatAboutKaren?

Well, that’s where the league finds it­self — in an al­most ir­re­versible pub­lic re­la­tions calamity.

Al­though new com­mis­sioner Randy Am­brosie and his ad­vis­ers made the best they could of it with a make-good pack­age to Win­nipeg fan Karen Kuldys, who didn’t get the mil­lion bucks she prob­a­bly should have.

In lieu of a cool mil, she got sea­son tick­ets to the Bombers for this year and next, an in­vi­ta­tion to the Grey Cup game in Ot­tawa and gro­ceries for a year.

Plus, Air Miles Canada tweeted out that it was giv­ing her 500,000 miles worth $50,000.

Still, early in the fourth week­end of the sea­son, the CFL has re­ally ticked off its young fans, its old fans and fans who haven’t even been con­ceived yet.

We didn’t bother to call the league about the il­le­gal block called on the Toronto Arg­onauts’ Llevi Noel in Win­nipeg Thurs­day night — nul­li­fy­ing a Martese Jack-

son kick­off-re­turn touch­down — be­cause it doesn’t mat­ter what they say.

It was the wrong call even if it hadn’t cost Kuldys the grand prize in Safe­way’s $1,000,000 Touch­down to Win con­test, as the sec­ond kick­off re­turn ma­jor of the game.

That penalty — when the Win­nipeg de­fender stum­bled into the blocker sev­eral yards be­hind the ball car­rier dur­ing the most ex­cit­ing play in foot­ball — is in­ap­pro­pri­ate seven days of ev­ery week.

It is the kind of call the league has worked for nearly a decade now to erad­i­cate, es­pe­cially on re­turns.

There were no safety is­sues, it didn’t af­fect the out­come of a run that had long out­stripped the block­ing and the of­fi­cial could not pos­si­bly have seen the en­tire play.

Even if there were mar­ginal rea­sons for throw­ing the flag, which there weren’t, it showed a dis­tinct lack of dis­cre­tion and sense of time and place, as did the fact that no other of­fi­cial came over and said, “Um, wait a minute, bud.”

An of­fi­ci­at­ing crew calls that one against the Ar­gos but doesn’t throw a flag in the late stages of the game when Ricky Ray al­most has his head taken off ? Twice? Pri­or­i­ties, fel­las. You didn’t pro­tect the quar­ter­back … or the en­ter­tain­ment quo­tient.

Add the call that was made and the non-calls in­volv­ing the hits on Ray to the re­play de­ci­sions in the first two weeks of the sea­son that looked like promo ads about mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion and you can eas­ily over­look the good work head of­fice has done in the past cou­ple of years to im­prove of­fi­cials’ train­ing, eval­u­a­tion and over­all knowl­edge.

B.C. Lions head coach Wally Buono says of­fi­ci­at­ing is get­ting bet­ter.

But pub­lic per­cep­tion springs out of the mer­cu­rial mo­ments not the day-to-day. Twit­ter and meg­a­sites such as Dead­spin are go­ing real hard at the CFL, which it def­i­nitely does not need.

And nei­ther does Safe­way.

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