Karen lost a mil, but the CFL lost cyberspace
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.