Why Is This Mic’d Up Ref Story Such a Big Deal?
I'm trying to figure out why this mic'd up ref Tim Peel story, is such a big deal. Here's a little background. It was the Red Wings-Nashville game, which the Preds won 2-0, Tuesday evening. Peel apparently had a live mic and early in the game, after Viktor Arvidsson was called for tripping Jon Merrill on Tuesday, a voice was heard on the broadcast saying, "It wasn't much, but I wanted to get a f***in' penalty against Nashville early in the ..." before the audio cut out.
When the NHL announced they were firing him today, the league said "Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our game," and the league determined Peel called a penalty simply because he wanted to.
Let's not kid ourselves here, and it doesn't justify it in anyway, but Peel's worst crime was forgetting that no matter what you say, always assume any microphone anywhere near you is "hot." How is what Peel said any different than referees calling some games tight, and other, looser ("letting the players play.")
ESPN's Michael Wilbon went off on this Wednesday afternoon. Ask any player from the first day sports started being played. Refs and umps will tell players they blew a call, and will do a make good. But, as Wilbon said, it's the optics that don't look good.
Also, here's another thing I'm a bit confused about. Refs threaten players with penalties all the time. And refs to try to even things out if penalties get too one-sided. And there's a long history of non-calls of penalties. It's not as bad now, but traditionally, in important playoff games, everyone knew, unless you maimed someone, you were not going to get a penalty in the third period or especially, in overtime, of a playoff game.
And if you look at this under a bigger scope. Individual baseball umpires will call strike zones differently. There are some longtime umpires who are notorious for this, but again, maybe they didn't get caught on a hot mic. It's a sad ending to a long career. Peel was retiring soon, and now his career ends with some disgrace.
But where things get diciest, is, all the major sports leagues are in business with gambling casinos. That's a very, very slippery slope. Good luck.