With Sports And Replay, The Only Constant is Disappointment

When one worships a false god like replay, disappointment with that god on outcomes one disagrees with, only distances the fan further from the essential joy – and pain – of sports.

True, the “goal” in sports is to win the game. And the objective is to finish the season winning more than you lose.

But that’s not the POINT of sports.

The POINT of sports, is to be part of something bigger than yourself. It is to learn the life lessons of accountability, sacrifice, dedication, teamwork. Sportsmanship. Yeah, it’s still important, quaint as it may seem these days.

When people lose sight of the fact that the OUTCOMES of these games truly DO NOT MATTER, then they begin to worship the false gods of perfection, justice, and… replay.

“But.. but but but…. “ you may stammer, “how can you SAY these games DON’T matter! They matter alot to every Michigan player, coach, and fan who might have had a CFP berth STOLEN from them by a BAD CALL!”

Of course the GAME mattered. That’s why it was played. A glorious, ongoing, white-hot, neighbor state rivalry unlike any other. But the OUTCOME did not matter. Had Michigan lost by 3 touchdowns, the game would have STILL mattered. Same as if they had won going away.

This is the essential sports truth. Outcomes don’t matter. It’s the playing, and the trying, and the failing that matters. And when the breaks and calls go your way, it’s the succeeding. Just because there’s a lot of money involved, big time television networks, and a big ol’ trophy at stake, doesn’t change the beating heart of sports.

Of course we want games officiated as well as humanly possible. And we don’t want any completely UNJUST outcomes due to errors. But there are limits. And if coaches like Jim Harbaugh can’t understand, or can’t impart to their players that old adage about never leaving an outcome in the hands of the officials… well… then he’s still not doing a good enough job.

A mature coach, and a leader would have said firmly: “I felt in all my heart that we had stopped ‘em. And from my vantage point, we did. But that wasn’t the call. And we’ll live with the result, grow through it, and keep getting better.”

Instead, the manchild-in-khaki’s threw a tantrum. As somebody once said: “What’s with this guy?”

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Technology has already gone past the point of being able to properly prevent a grievous error in officiating from truly, and SOLELY determining the outcome of a football game.

What we are now microscoping, are the most subjective, and minute moments in games FULL of moments, from the opening kick to the final whistle. In the last few weeks alone, there have been 4 calls that I can objectively say COULD have gone either way.

The first was Denver’s blocked PAT for 2 vs. the Saints. The second was Jordy Nelson’s TD against the Redskins. The third was DeAndre Hopkins stepping out in Mexico City.

And Saturday’s key 4th down conversion by Ohio State was just the latest. I dunno. Looked razor close to me. Coulda gone either way. Pretty tough to ask a guy upstairs in a booth, pull the plug on a team’s whole season inside their own stadium? Ya think?

Now, the worshippers of the false god of replay, want more human sacrifices to appease the still fallible god. They want lazers. And computer chips in footballs. And they want them now!

Our sports paradise of justice lies just a few more cameras, a few more plays that are eligible for review over the horizon! “Onward weary travelers, our salvation is near!”

You can’t put a computer chip in a pass interference call. And you can’t lazer holding. And this just in, there were more plays than just those, in that football game.

About the Author

Steve Czaban is a 25 year sports radio veteran, who hosts an afternoon drive show in Washington D.C. He also appears on "Bob and Brian" in Milwaukee. "Czabe" also writes and edits his own commentaries for www.czabe.com and other on-line and print publications. He can be reached at czabe@yahoo.com.

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10 Comments

  1. Hey Czabe, you think NFL and NCAA replay is problematic? I’m watching the Grey Cup, and in the CFL a team can challenge a FAILURE of the refs to call a penalty. Within 3 minutes, Ottawa unsuccessfully challenged when the refs didn’t call roughing the passer, and Calgary successfully challenged a no defensive PI call, giving them first and goal at the 1. They promptly scored on the next play. As a loyal Czaban listener, I couldn’t help but think of you, and envisioning your head exploding.

  2. Yea Jim’s got a point. CFL replay is so much worse in the not commonly accepted sense. Thanks for the blog; this hits the nail when it comes to replay.

  3. Definitely with Czabe on this one. I’ve always maintained that if they INSIST on using replay, it should be done at real-time speed. And if a blown call is not obvious to the naked eye, then leave it alone.

    1. Off topic, but I’m so done with the “since” stat (ex: first team to win in The Big House on a Friday in November since 2003…first player to rush and pass for 150 yds since 2013). Really? STHU.

  4. The man-child in khakis might have avoided the tantrum had the zebras called the identical PI penalty they called on Michigan or any of a half dozen holding calls they missed. UM turned the ball over three times so they can’t really complain but that doesn’t change the fact that the officiating was poor and inconsistent.

  5. If a chip can measure the exact position of the ball in real time then we should use that. Just like we should get rid of the home plate umpire for balls and strikes.

  6. This is a great article, specially on the point vs goal of sport. There are no replay in Soccer and people don’t understand how lucky they are. It’s hard to go against the human nature of making everything right but we have to stand and fight. Because the issue is not the simple calls that we can fix, it’s next thing that’ll be in scope of replay and the next thing (see CF example). If that’s the end game let’s just skip to digital robot football right now

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