One Bad Call
Last night my grandson and I attended the Utah State University football game against New Mexico. It was an exciting game that as usual had lots of fantastic runs, pass receptions and touchdowns from both teams. USU lead most of the game and we thought they would come away with a much needed win. With only minutes left in the game New Mexico scored a field goal and took the lead. The Aggies had one-minute left to try to tie or win it. With just seconds left the Aggie quarterback threw a pass into the end zone and the receiver caught it and everyone was screaming excited for the exciting win – then we saw the flag on the field. Offensive pass interference was called and the touchdown was taken away and the penalty put us almost out of field goal range. Quickly the Aggies got into position and attempted a field goal as time expired. The ball hit the cross bar and fell short. The game was over and the Aggies lost.
The replay showed that while there might have been some contact from both players, it probably was not offensive pass interference. The USU Fans were united in expressing their opinion that that call cost the Aggies the game and that we were cheated out of a win. I was even caught up in the emotion and felt that it was a bad call and cost the us the game. Now that I have had a short night’s sleep I can look back and realize that that one bad call did not cost USU the game. What about the time when USU was on the 1-yard line and it was 4th down and instead of kicking a field goal to go ahead by 3 points the coaches called the play to go for the touchdown and failed. How many other plays were called by the coaching staff that failed? How many players failed to execute the plays or failed to get the first down? The greatest thing about sports is no one is perfect, including the referees. All of the mistakes made during that game put the Aggies in a position where “one bad call” cost them the game. One bad call does not lose a game and not one person is responsible; everyone is. Many fans are questioning the coaching staff for their bad decisions but if the players had executed the plays the coaches called, then they would have been heroes.
I have been a referee for over 30 years. While I am not a football referee, I officiate basketball, soccer, and lacrosse. I have officiated at the youth, High School, and collegiate levels. I know the pressure referees have to get the calls right but we are human and do make mistakes. That is part of the game. I have often said that in my 30 years of officiating I have never made a wrong call. People respond in disbelief when I say that, but I tell them it is true because once I make that call it is right. I have made many bad calls but once made it is right. Fortunately, I don’t officiate any sport that has instant replay so my calls are not over turned. I am not sure how I would react having all my calls up for review. Maybe I would find out that I have made wrong calls.
After the game my 12-year-old grandson said he would never trust referees again and that they were all out to gut us. I tried to help him understand that referees do not care who wins and that most officials are not out to get anyone. I admit there have been some officials that are biased but they are very few and usually don’t last long.
Sports are a mirror of our lives and we can learn many lessons from participating in sports. Many years ago one of the sports channels had the motto of “The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Defeat”. Sports has a way of exalting us or humbling us. We learn how to win and show respect for the other team. We learn how to lose with dignity and admire the skill of the winning team or appreciate the sacrifice the officials made to be there for us. Fans also show their true character by how they react to calls they feel are wrong. Today there is a lack of sportsmanship especially by the fans.
Above all we must remember that in our lives things just happen that we have no control of. Good and bad things happen and we need to learn how to deal with every circumstance that we face. We may think that someone, our teacher, our boss, our spouse, the cop; whoever it is that is causing us to fail or things not going the way we want that we are responsible for how we react. We also must realize that normally it is many previous choices that we have made that put us in the situation we are in when it seems that everyone is out to get us.
We all must take responsibility for the choices we make when bad things happen. When we do not get the grade we want in class, it is not the teachers fault, but maybe the many choices to not study properly or turn assignments in on time. When we do not get the promotion or raise, maybe our boss has some responsibility but can we find things in our performance that has not merited the raise.
When the person we voted for does not get elected how do we respond? Do we protest and vow never to vote again or do we do our best to support the person that was elected by staying involved and pursuing our ideals?
When bad things in the world happen is God to blame, no it is caused by the choices that others make, sometimes it is the choices that we have made over many years that have affected the environment. Sometimes bad things just happen and we must learn to respond in a kind and loving manner not with anger and hatred.
Seldom is the “one bad call” the cause of our failure or injustice but it is a life time of choices that have led us to the position where one call affects the outcome of our game of life.
Your comments and questions are welcome.