“Nice call, ref!”

The CFL recently dismissed side judge Rick Berezowski from his officiating crew after he made a controversial call in a game between the Montreal Alouettes and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The play in question involved Bomber receiver Greg Carr interfering with Alouettes cornerback Greg Laybourn in the end zone, which resulted in Laybourn taking a pass interference call, moving the ball to Montreal’s one-yard line. Bomber fans are annoyed; we’ve been victims of bad calls by the officials in the past, but the league has never done more than issue a formal apology. But when it’s Montreal that is affected, the ref in questions gets the chop? Fan emotions regarding the situation aside, the firing got me thinking of other bad calls in sports history. Here is a list of my top-five worst calls:

  1. The 1972 Olympic basketball gold medal game was played between the USSR and the U.S.A. “Dream Team.” During the game the officials controversially put more time on the clock twice in the dying seconds of the game. The extra time gave USSR enough time to score the winning basket as the buzzer went off. The USSR won the game 51-50, but the Americans refused to accept the results of the game. The USSR got their gold medal, but at the expense of the Olympics’ integrity.

    1. The Calgary Flames should have raised the Stanley Cup in 2004; a controversial no-goal call robbed them of the decisive win in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. Tampa Bay and Calgary were tied with about six minutes to go when a shot deflected off of Gelinas’s skate and headed towards the net. Play continued, but when the broadcast team took another look at the play it was clear the puck had crossed the line. The net cam showed there was no distinct kicking motions, but the no-goal call stood. Calgary ended up losing Game 6 and lost the Cup in Game 7.

    2. On June 2, 2010 during a MLB game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians, first base umpire Jim Joyce made a controversial call at first base that prevented Tigers’ pitcher Armando Galarraga from earning one of the rarest feats in baseball: a perfect game. It was the top of the ninth inning and Galarraga and the Tigers were up 3-0, one out away from securing the victory. Jason Donald hit an easy ground ball to first, and everyone — but Joyce — could see that Donald was out on the play. Joyce deemed Donald safe, despite replays proving the play to first was on time. What makes this call so painful is that Joyce later realized his mistake; a tearful Joyce apologized after the game to Galarraga, but the damage was done.

  2. “The Tuck Rule”: During the 2002 AFC divisional playoff between the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders, the Raiders led 13-10 with less than two minutes to go in the game when a controversial rule would ultimately change the outcome of the game. Driving for the go-ahead score, Tom Brady was hit before he could throw the ball and appeared to fumble the ball. A Raiders player pounced on the ball, which should have sealed the victory. However, the game was stopped for review; instead of a fumble being called, the refs ruled that according to the “tuck rule” it was an incomplete pass. The ball stayed with the Patriots, who kicked the game-tying field goal and then won the game in overtime. The call remains one of the most controversial in NFL history.

  3. My number one worst call of all time is special to me. I never grew up watching hockey, as I arrived in Canada as a young teenager from Australia. In Canadian history class we watched a film about the 1972 Summit Series where Canada played against the USSR. The final game of the series featured some horrible calls against Canada by the Russian officials, but none caused more controversy than what happened after Canada tied the game late. After Yvan Cournoyer scored the game-tying goal, the goal judge did not turn on the goal lamp. This enraged Alan Eagleson, a Canadian official watching the game in the stands. Eagleson’s reaction provoked the ire of the Russian armed guards present at the game. The commotion in the stands caught the attention of the Canadian players, who crossed the ice and tried to jump into the stands. While the game became a symbol of Canadian dominance in hockey, it should also remain as a reminder of why sports and politics should remain separate.