Professional Sports Officiating

The inconsistencies that skew the the outcome of games

Officiating in the NBA, NFL and MLB have seemingly become worse over the years. Hence the installation of rules such as coaches being able to ‘Challenge’ the outcome of decisions made on the field or court of play. Don’t get me wrong, officiating professional sporting events or any sporting event is not an easy task. You are always going to have one side or the other that will express their displeasure with the outcome of a call or decision made throughout a game. There is no getting around that.

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Watching sports for my entire life, you start to understand the rule changes that are being made and why officiating changes along with that. For instance, in the NBA the ‘Hand Check’ foul. You used to be able to place your hands on the player you are guarding… to an extent. Now, the NBA has moved away from allowing hand checking when playing defense. With the new rule change, referees are forced to call a foul when they deem a defender is using hand checking to stay in front of their opponent. Obviously understandable with the way the rules are stated in the NBA. I have no problem with that.

The problem comes when inconsistencies arise and when a referee’s decision or indecision influences the outcome of a game. In both the NFL and NBA, every rule favors the offense. The defense’s hands are tied when it comes down to certain situations. The NFL is a great example of incompotent, inconsistent, and overall terrible officiating that has decided the outcome of big games. We all know in the NFL that they are trying to do away with head injuries. Not possible in a contact sport, but I respect their efforts.

Now when it comes to quarterbacks, they have taken things to a whole new level, and in the inconsistency in which you see ‘Roughing the passer’ called is where problems arise. Call me a homer and say I am being biased all you want, but I am going to use the Bears Vs Packers as an example… When the Bears are on defense and they push Aaron Rodgers after he has thrown the ball or if a Bear defenders hands go up anywhere near Aaron Rodgers helmet, each referee on the field is tossing their flag. Then the Bears have the ball and Mitchell Trubisky gets blatantly facemasked twice directly in front of an official… fumbles the ball and the Packers run it in for a touchdown… NO FLAG… That is where the inconsistency comes in. Granted this play did not decide the outcome of the game by any means, it is the principle that matters. If you are going to make the call on one end of the field and not make the same call for the opposing team, then we have issues.

We have seen it with the New Orleans Saints who have been burned by bad officiating multiple times and in their case, it has cost them the game. The Saints were the reason why the NFL adapted the rule of teams being able to challenge a pass interference call because they had been screwed over by a blown pass interference call in a big game. The NFL has since nixed the rule after a season or two, but the fact that they had to create an entire rule just to try and make up for poor officiating says it all.

Bottom line, officiating is what these men and women are paid to do. This is their job. I get it, everyone makes mistakes and the human element of sports is what makes them great. However, if we are going to fine or suspend a player or coach for arguing a bad call, then we have to fine or suspend a referee for making a terrible call that is proven via review.

Now, we will never fully eliminate mistakes so long as we have human officials, but we can do better in getting the call right. In the Bulls Vs Warriors game earlier this week, the NBA came out with their ‘L2M/ Last two minutes’ report that stated the Warriors should have been called for not 1 but 2 different violations on their game winning play in the 4th quarter. While the NBA did come out and say they got it wrong, it still does not change the outcome of the game. A prime example of the human error element of sports that can cause any game to hang in the balance of the referees simply doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

Again, we will never be able to do away with errors completely, but there are things the NBA, NFL and MLB can do to be better and more consistent with their officiating across the board.

Hopefully I don’t catch a hefty fine for writing this.

Avid sports enthusiast creating content for the average sports fan

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