In Sports And Life Blown Calls Can Have Devastating Effects

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PC: Bleacher Report

PC: Bleacher Report

Every single week during the year various sports leagues release statements which are basically a mea culpa for the mistakes that their officials made.

Some are worse than others and their mistakes can have drastic effects on the lives and careers of both players and coaches.

This is the nature of the world in which we live people make mistakes and are fallible. Somehow we all seem to have difficulty living with it, accepting it and moving on. But what other choices do we have?

We live in a time where we are not only more blameful of those who make mistakes but we are also less likely to take responsibility for the mistakes we make.

Changes in technology and advances in communication have allowed us to be both more critical and scrupulous of others. And thus blaming others has become easier–if this was at all possible given our proclivity to pass judgment.

Society as a whole is facing moral and ethical issues involving the use of technology in our daily lives. We have had serious debates about privacy issues and of course the recent NSA scandal has brought these issues and more to the forefront.

In sports instant replay, Questec, colored first down markers are now the norm. Each season introduces new technological advances that allow us to see if the officials made a correct call or not.

These revolutionary advances also allow for immediate statistical analysis of games providing teams with crucial information.

In life there is a saying– you cannot go back a minute. But now in sports you are able to do just that.

The sports industry has slowly but steadily embraced these advances as every year professional sports leagues continue to introduce not only new advances, but also the expanded usage of the technology they have been using.  This year baseball for the first time is going to allow managers to challenge certain calls by umpires.

Purists have argued that the game is played by people and should be umpired etc., by people. Being at the mercy of others, their judgments and capacities is perhaps difficult for many but it has been going on since the beginning of time.

Keep in mind that few if any have their work scrutinized in the manner in which sports officials do.  One can only imagine how all would feel if everyone’s work was videotaped and subject to review of the entire populace. Although we are venturing in that direction.

Most recently Wade Phillips the Houston Texans interim head coach questioned the validity of Peyton Manning’s 50th touchdown pass claiming the catch was bobbled and the NFL agreed. Phillips is saying there should be an asterisk next to the record.

One of the most famous blown calls was made by Jim Joyce whose safe call cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game. The list of known mistakes is endless and that is the point.

Given Phillips reasoning if we were to count all the mistakes that have been made during just this NFL season not only would team records and the NFL standings be drastically altered, so would individual players stats. And of course fantasy leagues would essentially be bogus.

I can truly understand that coaches and managers can become enraged when officials make mistakes. After all so much is riding on winning and losing. For some their very jobs are at stake.

There are no clear answers to many of the problems that sports faces in terms of proficiency and the accuracy of the calls made.

Many continue to call for more use of technology, additional challenges by coaches and more accountability for officials. The NFL and all leagues have conditions under which calls can be questioned but Bill Belichick has suggested that coaches be allowed to question all calls.

It was recently revealed that the NFL reneged on the full time hiring and training of officials. Sometimes you get what you pay for. And there is no doubt that the continued training of officials is a paramount necessity in all sports.

Fans who have so much riding on the outcome of games consistently question the integrity of the officials claiming some are corrupt given some of the blatantly missed calls officials make. And who can blame them?

The Tim Donaghy story always comes to mind when one thinks of the infinite possible influences there can be on officials.

To put this in some perspective, at times serious errors are made in our society and people are made to pay for their mistakes—sometimes the punishment is in many peoples judgment not sufficient enough– and from their perspective I could not agree more.

Moreover, with the advent of advanced DNA testing we hear stories about freed falsely imprisoned people while many perpetrators roam the streets free.

The world of sport does have the capacity to go back a minute or even less in time. It will be interesting to see how far they want to go in the ongoing debate regarding human judgment and technology.

However we do not have that capacity to go back in time and those in the world of sport will have to live with the current restrictions they do have to question calls.

So for now the real adjustment has to be made by all of us. We need to allow and accept that mistakes are made by people in every profession and in relationships.

It is just how we are going to cope with and move on from them that is up for discussion.

Much in the world in which we live is not under our control, the only things that we do have under our auspices are our actions, reactions and coping skills.

In a world filled with fallibility and error some comfort can and should be found in having that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Richard Lustberg

About Dr. Richard Lustberg

Dr. Lustberg’s On The Couch Column, Blog and Psychology of Sports Podcasts are syndicated on the Internet. He is extensively quoted and published, and is the sole developer and creative force behind The Psychology of Sports. Dr. Lustberg has helped launch and host Psyched Up, a Psychological Podcast addressing pertinent psychological issues for the Suffolk County Psychological Association and Psychology And You for the New York State Psychological Association.

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