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Home > Articles > Football > The case of the mysterious scoreboard

The case of the mysterious scoreboard

Posted: November 14th, 2015 @ 12:39am


BROCKVILLE, Nov. 13—It was very strange.

It caused some consternation.

In retrospect, it’s certainly embarrassing.

One day, it might even be funny. After all, Mark Twain was largely correct when he wrote that humour is tragedy after a suitable interval.

For now, though—mea culpa.

If it was a Perry Mason novel, this might be titled The Case of the Mysterious Scoreboard.

Here’s what happened at the Eastern Ontario Secondary Schools Athletic Association senior AA football game at Thousand Islands Secondary School Friday afternoon.

The electronic scoreboard at the field apparently hasn’t worked in some time, so to display the score to fans and others watching the game on the far side of the field, the school had one of those flip-chart things with numerals printed on them that are normally used to display the score at indoor events such as volleyball matches. Seemed a little flimsy for as windy a day as Friday was, but at least it was something, and everything seemed OK.

Thousand Islands scored two touchdowns in the first quarter, and the folks tending the little flip chart put 14 points on the board. For most of the first half, the score reads 14-2, until La Salle scores, and it's 14-8 (the Knights missed the convert), and then La Salle scores again, and there's a bit of a kerfuffle at the scorer’s table. It appears that they start to change the wrong team's score, and by the time they figure it out, everyone (by that I mean all the people in the booth and many in the stands) thinks the score is 15-14 for La  Salle.

Alas, the little scoreboard now reads 15-13—and it appears somehow mistakenly a point had been taken from TISS. There’s no public address to announce why the score may have been changed, so I, among others—who smugly believe we’ve been following the game more closely than everybody else—presume it’s simply an error

Those of us who discuss it think maybe the wind blew a flap over, or perhaps the young ladies just made a mistake amid whatever fuss there was about changing the score last time, but we conclude that eventually somebody will notice and fix it.
  Nobody does.

All the while I foresee a potential catastrophe and I’m hoping this doesn't come into play, but, sure enough, it does. La Salle scores with less than two minutes to go and now we all think it's 28-26 for TISS (though, with the phantom point still missing, the scoreboard reads 27-26). La Salle kicks a convert, and I'm thinking, 'I'm going to be the poor sap who has to explain to the coaches that they should have gone for two points.’ At this point I assume they don't realize the scoreboard has been in error since before halftime.


Now TISS starts marching down the field. Some of us are thinking out loud that they just need to kill the clock to preserve the one-point lead, but apparently they think the score is tied and they have to score. What if they throw an interception or fumble and La Salle gets another chance? I'm thinking this would be the worst disaster I've seen in more than 40 years of watching high school football.
By now, some fans are yelling across the field to fix the scoreboard, and people in the booth are wondering how this is going to get sorted out.
Well, it turns out TISS kicks a single point and it all becomes moot. Many of us now believe they've won by two points instead of one, but even if it’s an erroneous scoreboard, the home team has won. No harm, no foul.

But what the heck happened?

To find out, I approached the officiating crew, some of whom are colleagues in that endeavor—at least they were, until they read this piece.

Turns out the TISS team had missed the convert on its second touchdown. They were unanimous: the referee clearly waved it off, the other five officials confirmed. The little scoreboard was actually wrong for most of the first half, and it wasn’t until the officials reported the La Salle touchdown just before halftime, that it was corrected. It wasn't confusion among the kids changing the wrong little flaps, and it wasn't the wind that nobody noticed: they were actually correcting the real error.

Clearly, everybody who mattered, such as the officials and coaches, were aware of this little tidbit.
So here’s a guy who fancies himself a dependable journalist, and he’s been Tweeting the wrong score since the first quarter.

Sheesh. If anybody is following, they’re no doubt wondering what the heck game has this guy been watching?

The puzzler is this: If I got it wrong, and my television counterpart had the halftime score wrong, the football mensa with me in the booth got it wrong—not to mention a bunch of spectators—what in the name of Mr. Magoo happened?

I’m chalking it up to aliens, testing a formula that causes momentary lapses of collective attentiveness. This would also explain why we never saw their spaceship as they conducted the test: we weren’t paying attention to that, either.

The good news? For the aliens, the formula works. For the officials and coaches? Confirms what they’ve believed all along—that they’re smarter than the average bear—a fact that apparently rendered them immune.

For those of us with egg on our faces, doling out Sixties references like they haven’t already gone out of style (perhaps that’s a side effect of the of the anti-attentiveness potion) all we can do wait until they get us again.

Only this time, we’ll have our excuse at the ready.

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