and it doesn't matter how you score but how you play
and although the masses play the host make all the rules"
The wide and wonderful world of sports has many parallels to what we'll call real life. If it didn't, I wouldn't have a lot to write about. Perhaps the most apt allegory is hockey's excellent but imperfect penalty system. All players have a basic understanding of the rules and generally abide. They will on occasion, intentionally or not, skirt the rules and if the referee happens to see the infraction, a punishment equal to the crime is doled out and the naughty player forfeits his right to play the game for anywhere from 2 minutes to several games.
The idea being if you break the rules, you gain an unfair advantage. This is antithetic to our common ideal of sportsmanship. The ref, of course, is only human and therefore prone to mistakes and missed calls. You can't please the hordes of pseudo-savages (sports fans) all the time and occasionally a ref will make what is known as a bullshit call. Sometimes it is obvious, but often the ruling is obscured by subtleties.
In "real life", and I use that term as loose as a jock strap, the uniforms looks different but it's pretty much the same rulebook. Most of us have been taught to play by the rules by our programmers but we will bend and at times break rules. Tickets of the speeding and parking variety are minor deterrents to keep us in line, but it certainly doesn't prevent all people from speeding or finding imaginative parking methods.
Some people know the rules and choose to try to get away with what they can. The mere notion of punishment however, is enough to keep most of us in line. Years of punishment and rewards through the "education" system see to that.
The referee, unmistakeable in resplendent zebra stripes is an ostensibly omnipotent impartial agent, doling out justice where ever the rules are broken. Except that refs miss calls and at times make calls where there are none to make. Simply put, bullshit calls are routinely made, either because the ref wasn't looking or he had pigeon shit in his eyes. Crafty players are quite aware of this fact and use it to their advantage. Some are quite unapologetic about it.
To think non-athletes share the same mentality is both healthily cynical and realistic. The long arm of the law is purposefully visible and always has a strong presence in low income, poverty stricken areas with reputations. Like Parkdale for example. The crimes committed in areas such as these are fairly straight forward. Assault, narcotic trafficking, the odd B&E, you get the point. The verdicts often come quickly and decisively.
When the criminality moves from the street to the boardroom, it makes the refs job, or rather the law's, much more difficult and adds at least fifty shades of grey to normally black and white issues. Let's not kid ourselves here folks, the more money you have and the closer your ties to the government, the less likely you are to actually see the inside of the sin bin (prison). Case in point, if you recall the financial world nearly imploding in 2008 due to a number of factors, no one Wall Street banker did time save for Bernie Madoff and I bet he only went down because he ripped off rich people. The guilty unpunished pulled off a trillion dollar heist.
Closer to home, but no less serious, our own governments, provincial and federal, seem content to skate outside the rules whenever they see fit. Mike Duffy and his personal trainer are on trial for illegal procedure, but I'll be very surprised if the justice system hands him a game misconduct or even a minor penalty. Ontario's grandmotherly premier keeps playing dirty too, first with signing off on the gas plant scandal and most recently in Sudbury, but play has yet to be whistled down. Brian Mulroney and his paper bag of money. I could go on, but you're smart enough to get the point.
While fear of accumulating PIM's is enough to keep most of us from breaking the rules, a few rich and powerful elites either know they'll never see a call go against them or the refs are choosing to look the other way. In either case, we need to take a serious look at how the game is played, because as it stands now, we're going to be killing penalties for some time to come. C'mon ref, are you blind?