I try to avoid commenting on anything that isn't what the pompous professionals in my business — the same people who refer to reporters as journalists — call hyper-local, meaning if it isn't about Petaluma I'm not really interested.
However, what happened at the end of Monday night's Green Bay Packer-Seattle Seahawk NFL game was so outrageous it was offensive to every sports fan from Petaluma to Green Bay and I can't help but make a comparison with what I see every Friday night.
I want get into exactly what happened. The game-ending play has been analyzed, bisected, dissected and digested to the point where it is now excrement.
I will offer this opinion, to bring everything back to the hyper-local level: I believe, and I'm not being factious, that Redwood Empire football officials could do a better job than the replacement NFL officials. I know the game is much faster, the players are much bigger and much craftier, but at least the local officials know the rules, are generally in position and make an honest effort to get the calls right without letting egos get in the way of doing the right thing.
A few coaches might disagree, but I think the local football officiating this year has been as good, or better, than I have ever seen. There have been very few blatantly blown calls and only a few obvious (at least to me) calls that the officials have missed.
I have especially appreciated the way the officials have controlled the games without flag waving their way into the spotlight.
Last week at the Piner-Petaluma game, a game that had its share of penalties, the officials kept warning Petaluma players they were lining up offside. Finally, they were reluctantly forced to throw the flags.
Purists might object to warnings, noting that players (and coaches) should know the rules and should be penalized without warning when those rules are violated.
I disagree. A warning is a dose of preventive medicine. The fewer flags the better.
There was a time when I knew most of the officials in the Redwood Empire. That is no longer the case. The truth is that most of the officials I knew have retired. But I have a lot of respect for the current group.
Officiating isn't easy. The game, even on the high school level, is very quick and there is much to look for. The mark of a good official, to me, isn't that he makes every call or even makes every call correctly, but that he (or she) is in a position to make every call.
The other thing that is critical is that officials do their best to get the right call. If that means they need a huddle, then huddle. If that means an official has to admit that he was wrong, then take the embarrassment and admit you were wrong.
I acknowledge I still get a little emotional on the sidelines and have been known to shout an occasional "Oh, No!" — well, maybe something just a little bit stronger, but the truth is that our local officials put up with a lot.
They call them as they see them without benefit of instant replay and they take a lot of verbal abuse from one sideline or the other and sometimes both simultaneously, but they do a good job.