“Next call is the judges”

On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS December 15, 2014 # 519  ”Next call is the judges.”

After further review… The headlines in an Oklahoma City newspaper earlier this week read: “After Referees Blunder, Next Call is a Judge’s.” A district judge was scheduled to affirm or invalidate a high school’s claim of an on-field official’s call. A high school in Oklahoma City is seeking to have the final 64 seconds of the second half replayed because of an admitted and crucial on-field mistake by the officiating crew.

At issue is whether the officials’ mistake is correctable or whether human error is allowed to stand! The play in question was a foul called on one of the coaches, who was so excited that his T*E*A*M had scored  a 58-yard touchdown to take a 25-20 lead over their rival opponent, that he unintentionally impeded or bumped into the sideline official covering the play.

Since the coach had been warned earlier in that game for a similar infraction, a foul was called. Rules state that a 5-yard penalty is to be enforced on the try-for-point or the ensuing kickoff – with the touchdown counting. Instead, the officiating crew assessed a 5-yard penalty and disallowed the touchdown. BTW, the entire crew of officials must share in the responsibility for proper penalty enforcement.

A couple of questions come to mind: What if this same play and foul occurred in the first 64-seconds of the game and the same wrongful penalty was enforced? But the real “64-dollar question” is: Should legal entities become involved in athletic contests? Many argue that judgment calls should not be adjudicated other than by those supervisors responsible. Game officials’ calls are reviewed by supervisors from the high school level to the professional level mostly with the intent to improve the official’s judgment. This “blunder”, however, was not one of incorrect judgment, but an incorrect enforcement of the penalty. Are incorrect enforcements reviewable and corrected after a game?

One irate high school administrator said, “Adults in a split-second can negate months and years of hard work by kids who shouldn’t be held accountable for these mistakes – especially in a situation when they can be corrected.” Hmmmm.

Note: As this column/article went to press word came that the judge disallowed the school’s claim on the basis it was “unreasonable”, arbitrary, and without basis”.

Will you support the judge’s decision?

To contact Jim go to www.jimtunney.com or email jim@jimtunney.com.

Jim’s new book “101 Best of TunneySide of Sports” makes a delightful Christmas gift.



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