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Unsold sports officiating op-ed

Tuesday 5/23/23

The goods help make the case. So show the goods.

Unsold sports op-ed here. One won't see a better sports opinion piece. Its author has a track record sans precedent. Said author hasn't done anything to anyone. So why is this going up here? Why isn't this where it should be if things are on the up and up?


Your team didn’t lose because of the refs, but you’re more likely to lose if you think that way.

Talking to someone the other day who will have a game on but doesn't get exposed to the claptrap that accompanies sports in the form of social media postings, I asked them what they would think is the sports topic more commonly obsessed over than any other.

They said, "Winning?" That would make sense, right? You’d hope it would be winning, or what goes into making it happen, or else not coming to fruition. But there’s nothing people spout off on anything in sports as much as they spout off about officials, and I don’t think it’s close.

One will see people of all ages and backgrounds blame officials for nearly everything. People who are otherwise reasonable. You watch the fans on one side of the aisle claim that the officials have it in for their team, and during the same game, you watch the fans on the other make the exact same claims.

But here’s the truth: your team, whether you are on it or just root for it, lost because they got beat by the other team. Not by the other team and the officials. The faster and better you lean this truth, the better equipped you’ll be in the games that really aren’t games of your own life.

I have never failed to understand something this ostensibly simple, which I guess isn't simple at all, given how people think—or should I say, violently emote?

Does a call sometimes happen that shouldn't and has say in the outcome of a game? Yes. Can you overcome? Yes. Should you? I think so. I call it a winner’s duty.

What is life about but overcoming? If you try. If you compete. If you play its game. Part of life’s game is knowing that not everything is going to be a red carpet walk for you, and you’re going to have to clear some brambles along the way.

That's one game we're talking about there. In a seven game series, the officials have very little—to the point of nothing—to do with the outcome.

The way a seven game series works is, the team who is the better team wins. Now, you might say that in hockey that's not always true, because of the role of a hot goalie, which is more a matter of the past than the current day, since goalies, on account of size, equipment, technique, are more interchangeable than ever.

But take a famous example, the 1971 playoff series between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens. You're always told that the latter won because of the play of goaltender Ken Dryden. And that had something to do with it. But the Bruins also served up 7 goals in one game and 8 in another.

That's why they weren't the better team. Ken Dryden wasn't whistling wristers into the top of the Bruins' net, nor causing the Bruins' defense to break down time and time again. To lose a 7 game series is to be beat by a team that is either better than you, or was better than you for two weeks.

Sports is the last meritocracy we have in this country. Everything else happens for other reasons that have nothing to do with anyone's ability. Are sports perfect? No. Do you know why?

Because nothing is perfect.

It’s also defeatist to look without rather than look within as a habitual response. The more we start by looking at ourselves, the better we can understand when something is truly unjust in the world.

Being defeatist makes for a terrible attitude, and a blinding one. Not the attitude of a winner. It only only hastens one’s journey to loserdom. That’s not a positive thinking thing; it’s a “don’t find a way to facilitate losing” thing.

Attitude is a big part of setting us up for success. For persevering. This is true on the hardwood, the ice, or the substratum of life.

And the people who comment once, comment every time. It's their thing. Every game, every series, every year.

How can you have any credibility then? And if you don't have if you have credibility, how can anyone take you seriously as anything? Either as a human, or just a simple watcher of sports with some comments in following?

Winners know why they win, but they also know why they lose when they lose.

Worth keeping in mind as you battle away on your couch in front of the screen, or when you get up the next day and play a different game.

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