Selnes: Interrupted games should resume on following days

The Riders’ 17-10 victory over the Montreal Alouettes on Friday evening has not felt right since the game was called under the CFL’s new weather policy that if a game has gone past the mid-way point of the third quarter and cannot be resumed within an hour the game will be called.

In the Riders home opener against the Toronto Argonauts the game was delayed for almost two hours near the end of the first half. Had it gone three hours, it was said the Riders would win.

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What I had not realized was that had the Rider lead, which was 25 points, been less than 17 points they would not have won.

The league protocol states:

Based on historical data in which the leading team went on to win 98 per cent of games, it was determined that a team will be awarded a victory and two points, if ahead by:

  • 21+ points in the first quarter
  • 17+ points in the second quarter
  • 13+ points in the third quarter

If there is a lower points differential, the teams are deemed to have tied if they have no more games that season or play two possessions from the 55 yard line before they start the next game between the teams.

The protocol certainly recognizes a seven-point differential in the third quarter is not enough to declare victory.

Having three hours for up to the midpoint of the third quarter and one hour after is too big a difference.

Interested to see how the NFL deals with the issue I looked up its Rule 17 – Emergencies, Unfair Acts.

Under the rule the Commissioner can:

If, in the Commissioner’s opinion, it is reasonable to project that the resumption of an interrupted game would not change its ultimate result or adversely affect any other inter-team competitive issue, he is empowered to terminate the game.

More likely subsequent articles in Rule 17 will be followed for a game interrupted by an emergency:

Article 8: If, under emergency circumstances, an interrupted regular-season or post-season game cannot be completed on the same day, such game will be rescheduled by the Commissioner and resumed at that point.

Article 9: In instances under these emergency procedures which require the Commissioner to reschedule a regular-season game, he will make every effort to set the game for no later than two days after its originally scheduled date, and he will attempt to schedule the game at its original site. If unable to do so, he will schedule it at the nearest available facility. If it is impossible to schedule the game within two days after its original date, the Commissioner will attempt to schedule it on the Tuesday of the next calendar week in which the two involved clubs play other clubs (or each other). Further, the Commissioner will keep in mind the potential for competitive inequities if one or both of the involved clubs has already been scheduled for a game following the Tuesday of that week (e.g., Thanksgiving).

I like the NFL approach better. In an era of instant communication, the Commissioner should be available for consultation and decision on every game day.

While it is hard to know how many people would turn up resuming the game the next day or the day after, it is probably the best solution.

In CFL history there is a famous game that was postponed to the next day. The 50th Grey Cup in 1962, being played in Toronto, was suspended with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter because of fog and resumed the following afternoon.

And the current protocol provides for playoff games and the Grey Cup that if a game is delayed for three hours it will be suspended and resumed the next day.

The justification for the new protocol is player safety being adversely affected by having to play the next day or second day after as the resumption may leave players vulnerable to injury. Yet it appears player safety only reigns during the regular season.

Bill Selnes, who’s a lawyer based in Melfort, has written about the Saskatchewan Roughriders since the late 1970s. He was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Football Reporters of Canada wing on Nov. 24, 2013.

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