Recent NFL rules changes are so minor compared to what they SHOULD take a HARD look at, it’s just ridiculous. There are two horrible systems that affect ALL sports that are televised, and with streaming systems all over the place now we’re talking about a ton of live programming options.
FIRST: The absurd system for reviews on INSTANT REPLAYS!
In theory and actual practice, Instant Replay has been a positive addition to determining fairness and (theoretically) eliminating incorrect calls, and there’s no question most calls are made during events that take place in fractions of seconds.
A quick aside here but important in my opinion, is that in fairness, most officials in sports at ALL levels do a darn good job, and don’t deserve the disrespectful manner in which they are treated by players, coaches, parents, commentators and fans. If fans of BOTH teams are unhappy, then somebody just did a darn good job.
Give ’em some credit. They accept that verbal or even physical abuse is possible, but often the loudest critics wouldn’t DREAM of stepping into that arena.
In addition, the smartest coaches and parents, are the ones who instill in their teams at ALL ages that games are NOT decided by ONE bad call. It’s always the easy out “we were robbed! The games are fixed!” The best advice is to simply expect a horrific call to happen, shrug it off and keep playing. It goes against human nature if you feel your team was the victim of a blown call, but winning teams don’t fall back on that either during a competition or after.
Now to my beef on Instant Replay.
We’re always told that the original call on the field is THE most important aspect of any challenge resulting in a review of the play either at the site or remotely from another city. The original call must be CLEARLY be at odds with the verdict on a variety of angles and slo-mo versions. If it’s not clearly determined the original call is incorrect, then that call stands.
But no, that’s not what happens in most cases. Did the puck cross the goal line? Did the football break the plane? Did he get both feet (one in college) in bounds? Was her foot fully behind the 3-point line?
Sometimes the officials are “under the hood”, or huddled in a studio somewhere looking at the same moment over and over, and it’s totally unnecessary. The longer the delay, the more the flow of the event slows down and the participants cool off.
The play or action should be either QUICKLY – like in one minute or less – overturned, or the original call stands and we return to the event. If it’s not IMMEDIATELY wrong, and I mean obviously wrong, then the original call stands. It boggles my mind that we’re talking about a half an inch on an offsides call, or in bounds catch, or fair or foul.
IMO, the benefit of the doubt should always go, and we’re talking if it’s down to micrometers, to the team that benefits the most from having the original call stand. If you’ve just driven the ball the length of the field and we’re talking fractions of an inch at the goal line, then you should get the benefit of the doubt. You deserve the goal or TD etc., because you did the work to get there. Why should the other team be saved when you did 99% of the work?
Another NFL rule I’ve never liked, is the pass interference rule. In college, if you mug somebody 45 yards down the field, it’s 15 yards. To me, that’s much more fair to both the defense and the offense, than heaving one 50 yards downfield and watching the yellow flag come out for a ball that probably wouldn’t have been caught anyway. It’s a 50 yard gain!
Would it change the way D-backs play receivers in the NFL? If you go by the college game, not that much. You still see bombs and big plays all the time, and rarely does a D-back simply tackle a guy that’s blowing by him just because he knows 15 yards is a lot better than a TD.
Pass Interference is also a huge advantage for the home team. After just praising the officials for their “mostly” good work, there is a psychological component involved, and studies have born this out. If it’s a close play, and the crowd roars, it’s an intimidating moment for the official. How often do we see that ball incomplete – THEN the crowd roars – THEN the flag comes out?
We see it a lot. It doesn’t mean the game is fixed or the official is a coward. It’s an actual subliminal influence. It’s been shown the biggest reason for home field advantage in most all sports isn’t the influence of the crowd on the players, but rather the influence on the officials. They’re human, and it’s rare when an official can totally tune that out.
Now a nit to pick with the NHL before I climb down from my soap box!
Whose idea was it to review offsides AFTER a goal has been scored? It’s an unbelievable drag on the game, and ruins the spontaneity of the game. He SCORES! The crowd is roaring! But wait…..let’s go back and make sure the play was on sides. Five minutes later, we get the “no goal” wave, because somebody’s toe nail was over the blue line. Did that “advantage” result in the goal? I’ll be willing to bet it’s almost never.
I honestly feel the spirit of the game, in this instance, is more important than the actual rule. Calling an offside can be tough when the linesman is seeing several pairs of skates, but they get it right most the time. It’s just such a bursting balloon. When it’s a quick “no goal” wave off, at least the crowd is still in the moment, and a decision will be coming fairly quickly.
But disallowing a goal 3-4 minutes after it’s been scored because of an inch or two at the blue line?
Bugs me no end.
This all being said, instant replay has been a huge improvement in sports, and I’m just assuming we’ll be seeing an electronic strike zone before long.
Actually….that might not be a bad idea.
Editor’s babble: The off sides challenge in the NHL should be shot into the sun! Many thanks to Ed Kilgore for his contributions to our blog. You can also find Ed on Twitter @Kilgore2Ed. Be sure to also check out the Ed Kilgore Podcast where you find your podcasts.