Issues With Sports Rules, Instant Replay And Blaming Officiating

Something about instant replay really irks me.

I guess it's in everyone's best interest to get most of the calls correct. Games were lost long before the replay booth on plays that the black box could have corrected.

Plausible, sure.

With the way the rules are now, do we really want things to be right all the time? There isn't a fall weekend in my life where football has been absent from the television.

All that and I still don't understand the rules.

A man must make a football move with two feet down and possession and then the ground cannot cause the fumble but it can cause the incompletion.


Each rule is more intricate and difficult to understand than the last. A Super Bowl will end up being decided on a technicality that seems so far out in outer space there's no reason it existed in the first place.

Then, they'll edit the rule to suit the losers.

Eventually, we'll remember the time Team X was screwed out of a Lombardi Trophy.

The same way teams were screwed out of games through plays we now must review to prevent it from happening again.

This process seems so exhausting. What irritates me most about the replay phenomenon is its starting point. That point is the point that everyone deals with when a game is on.

You hear it on the sidelines. You hear it in the stands. You hear it on the broadcast, and you hear it from the fans.

Complaints about officiating.

This isn't about replacement officials. We know what happened to those brave and tortured souls. No, this is about the very idea of complaining about officiating.

It's the scapegoat that keeps on giving. At the end of the day, everyone can blame the officials. If you think back to the dog who ate your homework, the officials aren't so different than Fido.

A built-in excuse for losers. That's what it boils down to, always has and always will. Winners rarely complain about officiating. It's not a coincidence.

Whining about the refs feels good because it points the finger elsewhere. It relieves the shortcomings of a team that you know exist. The onus is on someone else, something evil and incorrect.

Blame on officials is the most common denominator among fans and perhaps the least admirable.

That's where all the replay shenanigans were created. Fans, owners, players and analysts upset about human judgment.

Why take the human element further out of the games? We've already started breeding players to score touchdowns. Athletes know their sport, position and goals by the time they hit age 14.

What the hell happened?

Why do we long for cyborgs who run routes like machines? Can we live with non-reviewable calls like we used to? Or have we completely lost sight of the imperfections that made the game perfect?

On the basketball court, it seems like things have gone in the opposite direction. Instead of particular rules, the ones that exist seem to be ignored or taken with a grain of salt.

Go out to a high school gymnasium or watch a college game on TV. YouTube some AAU or NBA highlights.

When you've done those things, tell me what a traveling violation is. Explain what constitutes a referee making the spinning wheel motion with his hands.

I don't think anyone can. I'm not even sure walks exist anymore. Moreover, I don't think that's the officials fault.

No, I won't blame them and continue down the path that will see us throwing challenge flags 45 times per basketball game. I'll blame the undying need for offense in the pro game.

The trickle-down effect of that to the college game. The kids observing these non-rules and using them at the local gym.

I'd like to see sports use some simple rules with humans regulating them.

The what-could-have-beens in sports have been wiped out by absolute truths, and that takes away from the intrigue for this fan.

As for traveling? Well, that's been wiped out too.

Until those things are fixed, you can get off my lawn. You too.

7 Replies to “Issues With Sports Rules, Instant Replay And Blaming Officiating”

  1. I actually completely disagree with you here. We have the technology to get calls right, so get them right. Yes, blaming the officials can be viewed as a cop-out — "we shouldn't let it come down to that …" - but the fact of the matter is wrong calls can cost teams that busted their balls a game through no fault of their own.

    Now, I do have a problem with the way it's done. This is where hockey gets it right, with the NHL having a control room watching all games. That's how the NFL should work, NBA too. Why not? It should take no more than two minutes to get calls right.

    As for something like basketball and baseball, where the play is more fluid and difficult to ref, obviously you can't make a determination on every ball/strike or foul/no foul call, but you can get the biggies right.

    We've evolved to the point where we can eliminate the human element of refereeing, and in my opinion that's a good thing. The rules are supposed to be in place and irrefutable. Therefore, the human element should be limited as best as it can to the players actually playing the game. That's how I see it, anyway.

    Though I do admit, it's annoying as hell when instant replay delays the action.

  2. How did anyone play games without machines and robotic calls before? This notion that we need things to be perfect or else someone ends up on the short end of the stick seems ridiculous to me. At the end of the day, someone always ends up on the short end of the stick.

    Win by 10 and don't let one inch be the difference.

    1. How did they play without batting helmets and goalie masks? It's evolution, man. And they say that a referee is best when he's not noticed. Well, he's not noticed when he's getting the calls right. Now there is equipment to help make sure he gets the calls right.

      As for the win by 10 and don't let one inch be the difference, it's a great thought … however it's not reality. Especially as professional athletes keep becoming more and more on a level playing field. They always say, for instance, the difference between winning and losing in the NFL is really small. Sometimes the competition is too even to win by 10, which makes every play matter than much more.

  3. On a bit of a related side note, it's always irked me that officials don't have to face the media after games the way coaches and players do. Because say what you want, officials do affect the game, if not the outcome, the way the game is played by how they call it. Plus, they are big boys getting paid just like everyone else.

    If they aren't going to use technology to make them better at their jobs, they at least should have to explain themselves like everyone else involved in the game, in my opinion, be held accountable just like everyone else.

    1. Seattle, New England and the Giants didn't seem to have any issue with it this week. This is seen from two different viewpoints that won't mesh as one.

      I'll agree to disagree.

      1. I'm with the Rev on this one, I'd rather take an extra minute and get it right versus wonder what if in the long run because a ref missed a call. You can talk about the blame going on the refs for some things, but I'd say that the refs get saved more because of the replays in the long run. (Seattle vs. Green Bay not withstanding.)


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