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Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Sep 27, 2012; Section:Opinion; Page Number:8A    

Seattle stew

Packers game reminds us life isn’t fair

(James Wigderson is a blogger publishing at and a Waukesha resident. His column runs Thursdays in The Freeman.) 

    The final play of the Packers-Seahawks Monday Night Football game was one of those rare moments when almost all of Wisconsin agreed on one simple fact: The Green Bay Packers were robbed by a bad call.

    It wasn’t just as if the Mighty Casey had struck out causing no joy in Mudville. It was as if the last pitch sailed over the umpire’s head before he called it strike three.

    The bad call was all over Twitter and Facebook immediately. Within minutes of the final decision by the referees, the Lovely Doreen from Waukesha received three invitations on Facebook to join groups boycotting the National Football League.

    Meanwhile, we were flipping the channels between ESPN and the NFL Network to feed our outrage. Every NFL analyst was confirming what we saw.

    You could almost hear the late Alec Guinness, “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

    Millions of Packer fans were joined by millions of other football fans around the country in outrage. The Scandal in Seattle even interrupted politics with just over a month before the November elections. Gov. Scott Walker issued a statement calling for the return of the regular referees. He also posted on Facebook that the blown call was the hot topic of discussion at a meeting of governors on Tuesday.

    Republican vice presidential candidate and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan called for the return of “the real refs.” He told The Hill, “I half think these refs worked part-time for the Obama administration in the budget office.”

    Meanwhile, state Sen. Jon Erpenbach, DMiddleton, posted on Twitter NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s phone number. The Democratic Party expressed “solidarity” with the striking referees.

    State Rep. Scott Krug, R-Wisconsin Rapids, posted on Facebook after the game, “Somehow I don’t think my message of economic growth, preventing fraud and abuse, and returning to fiscal sanity will be the main topics of conversation at the doors tomorrow.”

    The controversy spread to the pundit class. Dave Weigel of Slate couldn’t work in his usual line about waiting on the results from Waukesha. Instead he asked on Twitter, “So do Wisconsin fans occupy the stadium and start chanting ‘THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE’? Mixed results last time.”

    Matt Yglesias asked, “In all seriousness, isn’t Obama empowered under Taft-Hartley to order an 80-day ‘cooling off period’ and end this farce?” I’m not a big fan of Yglesias, but any time I can quote a liberal pundit blaming Obama I can’t pass it up.

    Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard and a Fox News contributor advised after the call, “Packers shouldn’t come back for the extra point. NFL is a complete embarrassment.”

    Even President Barack Obama took a minute away from his golf game, fundraisers, and appearing as “eye candy” on “The View” to have his spokesman tell reporters that the outcome of the Packers game was a “pressing matter” and “distressing.”

    That’s pretty strong language for a president who refers to the assassination of our ambassador in Libya and other Mideast violence as “bumps in the road.”

    A friend of mine who is a non-football fan (yes, there are a few) asked on Facebook why everyone was acting as if war broke out. Perhaps she has a point.

    The universe is a cruel place and there is nothing “fair” in this world. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. Some starving kid in Africa would gladly trade places with almost any outraged Packer fans, and when he saw the giant flat-screen television they were watching he might even have a few uncomfortable questions about fairness.

    But we hope that the world of sport will be different. Professional football’s rules are created to make the game fair, to allow the best players with the greatest abilities to have a fair chance of prevailing.

    Instead, in one awful moment, two substitute referees who weren’t even supposed to be on the field reminded us that life isn’t fair. All the politicians in Washington, D.C. and Madison cannot change that. Perhaps we should stop expecting them to.

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