Monday, October 12, 2009

John's Monday Washington Post column:

This is Monday' Washington Post column, bringing to light the call for officials to be as accountable as players.  The following is the article:

October may be a great month to be a sports fan, but it most definitely has not been good month to be a sports official.

Let's just do a quick review of the most blatant officiating screw-up that have occurred so far this month:

-- Umpire Randy Marsh fails to see the ball hit the uniform shirt of Detroit's Brandon Inge in the 12th inning of the Tigers-Minnesota Twins American League Central Division playoff game. Because the bases were loaded the Tigers would have, at worst, taken a one-run lead into the bottom of the inning.

-- Umpire Phil Cuzzi somehow calls Joe Mauer's slicing line drive foul in the top of the 11th inning of Game 2 of the Twins-Yankees series when the ball was clearly fair by a foot. The call costs the Twins at least one run, and the Yankees win in the bottom of the inning on Mark Texeira's home run.

-- Officials in the LSU-Georgia game call "excessive celebration" on Georgia receiver A.J. Green after his late touchdown catch put the Bulldogs up 13-12. That helped give LSU superb field position after the ensuing kickoff. In a clear make-up call, the officials then flagged LSU running back Charles Scott for excessive celebration after he scored the winning touchdown. The Southeastern Conference admitted two days later that both calls were wrong.

-- The referee in the Navy-Air Force game made a ridiculous roughing-the-passer call on Navy, wiping out a Navy interception and allowing Air Force to tie the score as time expired. Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson was scrambling when he was hit an instant after releasing the ball. His coach, Troy Calhoun, described the call as " a gift." Fortunately for Navy and the referee, Navy won in overtime.

Click here to read the rest of the column: Everyone Answers for Mistakes -- Except Officials


Sabrina said...

Do you know how hard it is to be an official or a referee of any sport? Do you know how bad the attrition rate is?

Have you ever tried out yourself?

Your article is nothing but trash talk. It is not a solution.

I dare you to train as hard as these officials have -- traveling the road to do minor league ball -- months at a time.

I just dare you.

Tim said...

Sabrina - it sounds to me that you are making a solid case as to a solid reason why there is no reason NOT to treat officials as the hard working, top of the line professionals in their sport by subjecting them to the same media duties that lead to accountability.

I think most people would acknowledge that the job of an official is difficult, not foolproof and one they've never tried - but that is the same as a professional athlete and coach. Officials, having direct effect on games, shouldn't be protected from the public by media shields invoked by leagues.

Anonymous said...

John Feinstein, have you contacted the Supervisor of Officials in the NFL, MLB, and NCAA to determine how their officials are graded each game? Based upon your article, I don't think so. If you do some research, maybe you would know officials are held accountable and take their officiating profession seriously.

ournextcontestant said...

"The first issue relates strictly to postgame media access. When it's relevant, fans have as much right to hear from officials as they do from players and coaches. Matt Holliday spoke to the media after he missed the fly ball in the lights in Los Angeles the other night, costing his team a game, and Matt Punto stood and talked to everyone who wanted to listen after his base-running gaffe in Minnesota on Sunday night.

And Nick Punto, too.

Dirty Davey said...

I still don't understand the claim that NFL and college football officials need to be full-time.

Lots of people claim football officials should be full-time, but no one explains what they might actually DO in that additional time that would improve the quality of officiating.

Is there really some training program that would take 30+ hours a week in-season and 40 hours a week out-of-season that would significantly improve the quality of officiating decisions?

Fundamentally, compared to baseball, basketball, and hockey football IS a "part-time" sport--one game a week is not something that requires full-time work from the vast majority of those who are not playing or coaching.

Chris K said...

There is no solution to this except to either completely excise technology from the games or to completely subject the games to replay and electronic evaluation. The hybrid of officials making calls subject to review is changing the methodology involved in making calls. Errors are becoming more prevalent for several reasons. Like diagnostic procedures improving in medicine leading to better identification of disease, high definition and super slo-mo and the addition of many camera angles on each play have exposed nuances in officiating we never knew existed. In addition, the fallback reliance on replay in football, for example, has created a generation of officials who make calls with one eye on reviewability and reversability and not on getting the call right. The answer is simple. Excuse the refereeing from the constraints of replay and declare openly that the officiating part of the game will be affected by human nuance and frailty or introduce much more onerous electronic officiating, such as allowing an electronic strike zone to determine balls and strikes, and make the human element in the game a minor element. The former solution will frustrate fans and gamblers on the losing end of mistakes and the latter will slow already long games into marathons. If I was to make a choice, I say remove replay and make a declarative statement that the officiating will be subject to mistakes. Demand a better quality of refereeing and alow reversability after confering with other officials but get the cameras and replay out of the game.