• phil cantor/@osgphil

Blown Calls in a Game are Not a Conspiracy Against Your Team (Part 1)


Questionable Call/@espn/Twitter

I've written about this subject before but also I'm fully aware we now live in a world where decisions and things that happen are questioned anytime they don't occur in a way certain people would like them to. I get it.


But....it is alternately laughable and scary that anytime something bad happens to a team in Sports, the immediate reaction is "The refs fixed the game" "The ref is biased against us" or in some cases "The TV Network is biased against us and doesn't want us to win".


It's a frighteningly common refrain in a world dominated by Social Media and people in powerful places who's sole purpose for preservation is to create confusion and doubt in things that should be readily apparent and obvious but don't serve a particular agenda. (Yes, it's a political thing--but a separate conversation, we're talking sports here)....


The cause of me revisiting an old topic comes from the College Football Playoff semi-finals, a game where there were a couple of interesting/questionable calls including the play below which might have taken a touchdown away from Ohio State who would eventually lose.



For those who were wondering---the call initially was ruled a "Fumble" which was returned for a touchdown. However the play would be subject to video review where it was overturned due to a vague rule regarding catching the ball and making a "Football Move" with it.


The Ohio State faithful have---and continue to be outraged over this call, which is largely why I'm back on this topic.


THe "Buck-Nuts" have claimed everything from Referee Conspiracy (the crew was from the SEC) to ESPN putting in the fix to make sure they lost. The result is horrifically laughable things like this showing up on Social Media.



And then it gets perpetuated, and really this is my topic here:



First of all---you are all batshit crazy if you actually believe any of this. It would be comical to me to see people posting about wacko conspiracy theories claiming either the referees or ESPN wants to screw you over. I would love just ONE of these people to show some sort of "Documented Proof" of anything they say.


Topic #1: Referee bias---Listen, you may not like a call a Football Referee makes, you might not agree with it and there are plenty of times they make the wrong call. The FIRST person who says they can do better or mistakes can't be tolerated because they show bias should get a one-way ticket to the nearest mental health facility.


Just like you, me or anyone else who is a working professional, there are instances and occasions where mistakes will be made. The first fan who can sit there and say "I've never made a mistake at work" is the first person (maybe 2nd) who belongs in the Liars Club Hall of Fame.


There is no such thing as perfect job performance by any living human being and for no other reason than that, you should back off a referee or umpire. At the end of the day, they too are people and just like those of you bitching about them, they are and will never be perfect.


A referee has zero interest in whether your team wins or loses and none of you can sit there and say a blown call in the 2nd or 3rd quarter of any game is the one time they will act out on a fix or conspiracy. There are zero things in life that work that way.


In this game---yeah, the replay official made a bad call, I don't dispute that. I also despise replay, but that's another column for another day. Did the mistake cost Ohio State the game?? That's debatable. I would argue unless it happens at the end of a game, it couldn't cost them or any other team the game because there is plenty of time to recover. In this particular game, the Buckeyes led 16-0 at one point. Hold that lead and we aren't having this conversation. Period.


Yes, the Ohio State fans are calling for every one of the Officials from the game to be fired....




Topic #2: The ESPN factor. It would be laughable to me how many people really believe TV Networks tell officials who needs to win games. The "Argument" it's better for ratings is even more stupid.


Yeah, sure, I know--we live in a world where people in power denigrate and insult and repeat allegations of "Fake News" to push an agenda where they want us to question the reporting and only trust the people in power. It should be added this is done anytime something is said they don't like or doesn't make them look like the amazing people they think they are so they can tell you whatever they say is the truth--even when it isn't. (Another topic for another day)...


TV Networks don't care who wins games. They might be happier to see a "Big Market" or draw win than others, but at the end of the day---it doesn't really matter to them. TV deals are signed long in advance of any potential matchup and the money is already guaranteed, they sell ad space and sponsorships long before the teams are ever decided. They are getting paid either way.


To say that ESPN didn't want Ohio State in the game is utterly laughable. There are certain teams that are guaranteed ratings gold when they play in a marquee game. The list is kinda short: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame. They are the national brands. To say ESPN didn't want Ohio State in the title game is utterly absurd. Using the "Conspiracy Theory" aspect to this---why would they try fixing a game against their own best interest? Seriously---think about it for a second.


Yeah, I know this column is mostly targeted at the Ohio State nut jobs--but it really is applicable to just about any serious fanbase in sports.


I do realize and am fully aware fans believe players, particularly in College Sports should never make mistakes and any time their favorite team loses it's because either the coaches "Suck" or the refs had it out for them. I'm also aware most are just venting.


But in a world where much like regular Cable News, Sports News is dominated and the topic is controlled by talking heads spouting opinions that may or may not be relevant to well, just about anything---we all are now "Experts" in sports.


Everyone now thinks they can coach better than anyone coaching their favorite team and questions most everything said coaches do. Everyone now believes they are better than players and when said players throw an interception, fumble or miss a kick, fans believe they can do it better. The same thing applies to the referees.


Fans are fans and will always be passionate in their support and they should be. Being upset or disappointed over an outcome, there is nothing wrong with that. It should be respected.


But it also shouldn't be the dominant thought in your day or life. Just remember the person you are calling for to be fired because they didn't do their job the way YOU like has a life just like you do. Unless you are comfortable with the world screaming at you and calling for you to be fired for not doing your job, you have no room to talk....


Yeah, sure, if you make a series of mistakes on your job, you'll likely get in trouble and if you keep doing it you may eventually get fired. If it has happened to you, remember how you felt after it did. Remember what it was like they next time you start yelling curse words, posting threats on Social Media or anything else you do to express your displeasure and calling for someone to get fired.


Remember what it feels like if you've been fired because paid or not, it feels the same way for a coach or ref or athlete whenever they are told they are being let go.



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