Sunday, May 31, 2015

Two refs (Sunday brunch: May 31, 2015)

It’s the season for soccer championships: the leagues decided last week, the Europa and a bunch of domestic cups this week, and the Champions League final next week.  So I’ve been watching some soccer when there isn’t hockey on.  The only thing I detest about soccer more than penalty kick shootouts is all the diving and playacting done to try and influence the referee.  Players react to a routine foul by falling and rolling around like they’ve got a broken ankle, then pop up and continue playing once the ref has shown the opponent a yellow card.  And there are plenty of cases where a foul is called on the player chasing the ballcarrier even when the ballcarrier is pushing and shoving just as much.

I think the answer is for big-time soccer to do what big-time hockey has done (NCAA and top-flight juniors as well as pro): use two referees instead of one.  Then the referees won’t have to cover as much ground, and they’ll be closer to the play.  More importantly, they’ll each have different angles on a play, which makes it a lot easier to see the retaliation and see what really caused a player to fall down.  That would then take away a lot of the incentive for diving.

The bad argument against a two-ref system is tradition.  The better argument is that the two officials can (and usually do) have two different standards of enforcement.  But hockey (where the same argument was heard) showed that two refs are better than one.  Of course it helps that lower-level games have been played with two referees for as long as I’ve been in the game: they just don’t have linesmen working with them like they do in the games that used to be one ref.  There was already some variability in how calls were made: the second ref didn’t add as much to it as feared.  And good communication between officials helps them adjust to each other and set a consistent standard.

Not a lot of new American puzzles this week: so I went for a couple of Financial Times puzzles, which I’ll comment on next Thursday.  Both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal published acrostics this weekend (by Hex and Mike Shenk respectively).

Regular weekly cryptics:

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you're responding to a hint request, please remember not to give more information than necessary. More direct hints are allowed after Monday.