Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
Players, Not Officials, Should Determine Outcomes.
A while back, I coined the acronym SPTR to save us all some typing strokes during the game day threads. The need for an acronym was a statement about the poor quality of the Pac Ten Ref's and a testament to the fact that they were making so many bad calls that we needed a shorthand rule to comment. (Last night, I heard commentators say it was a Pac 10 ref who made the call and that the Pac 10 official in charge of ref's said it was the correct call. Even if it was not a Pac 10 call, I still think it important to make a statement about the rules in sport and those who enforce them.)
Yesterday, was but another egregious example of ineptitude.
The call in the UW may have changed the game. I say "may" because we will never know. But, we do know that it changed the emotional energy of the moment and made the kick more difficult. And, it cast a shadow over an incredible day by an incredible player. What should have been a day of good memories will not be. All because a Pac 10 official did not have the judgment to properly apply a rule in the context of the game.
The call was simply bad. But, the Pac 10 explanation, after the game, was worse.
"We were simply following the rules".
And, therein lies the problem. It is not simple to follow rules. Rules are applied. They are not "followed". Rules have no meaning until an official uses JUDGMENT -- looks at the PURPOSE of the rule and the CONTEXT or situation, and determines how to apply it to bring about a fair and just result.
Yesterday's call, and the post game excuses show a total misunderstanding of the role of rules in sport and life, and indicate that those we have chosen to apply them in the Pac 10 lack the basic judgment to do so.
I am not a fan of the "excessive celebration" rules. How can you not celebrate a great moment like yesterday's? These are college kids. Part of what we learn in college is to celebrate life -- be it in learning, art, music, literature, sport and .....
But, the excessive celebration rule is on the books. And, if it is on the books, it should be applied. But, the rule must be applied in a way that furthers its purpose.
So, let's look at the rule. I think we will all agree that the purpose is not to take the joy out of achievement. The rule does not prohibit ALL celebrations. Just those that are excessive.
And, excessive has no inherent, empirical standard.
To apply this rule, one must have judgment. And, to apply that judgment one must understand the PURPOSE of the rule.
There appear to be two purposes for the rule. The first is to eliminate "taunting" -- the practice of trying to humiliate one's opponent. I think this is a valid reason for the rule.
The second seems to be to make sure that games are not needlessly delayed and momentum is not shifted by a long celebration.
Neither of these purposes for the rule were furthered by yesterday's ruling. Said another way, in the context of Locker's celebration, the rule was not applied correctly.
Throwing the flag showed terrible judgment.
He did not taunt anyone. In fact, he flipped the ball into the air so he could use both arms to hug his mates. There wasn't a BYU player in the area. This was not an "in your face" throwing of a ball at an opponent.
And, it did not delay the game.
The "delay issue" is where the Pac 10 justification gets truly ridiculous. By focusing on how "high" the ball was thrown into the air, and talking about delay, they make fools of themselves. How much longer is a game delayed because a ball is thrown maybe 10 feet into the air instead of 2? If the ball had been placed down in the corner of the end zone with the tip pointing north, the celebration would have lasted just as long.
In their justifications for the call, yesterday, the Pac 10 said that Locker threw the ball "too high" into the air -- whatever that means.
In doing so, they did not explain what "too high" was. Because they can't. In the context of this rule, too high is not an empirical distance -- something that can be measured. We don't have a set of chains for "too high", and if we did, the spot would be impossible.
In the context of the moment, "too high" meant (1) did the flip of the ball taunt or humiliate and opponent? or (2) did it delay the game.
Anyone with an ounce of judgment would have answered "No" to both questions and would have left his hanky in his pocket.
Why this long rant about a call that affected a team that I do not care about?
I care about fairness. One week it will be UW, another it will be us.
We watch sports to see the athletes and teams. Not the officials. They are there to even the playing field, not tilt it. It is about the game, not the ref's.
And, from their perspective, it is about understanding the rules, knowing their purposes, and using sound judgment to apply them properly in the given context.
If they do not have the judgment to do so, they should not be on the field.