Trust…Have We Lost It?


On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS April 3, 2017, # 634 Up Next… “Trust – Have We Lost It?”

After further review…Merriam Webster defines the word trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.” Trust is a big word in parent-child relationships, as it is in virtually all relationships. For me, that assured reliance became a top priority in my relationship with my mother and father. I never wanted to lose their trust. It’s a value that I hope to have transferred to my children, as well as the students I have been privileged to teach. It was also a value that I carried over to my officiating life.

I trusted players and coaches to live by the rules, and if they didn’t, it was my responsibility to see that they did. It often required throwing the flag, literally and figuratively. But it was much more than just penalizing a T*E*A*M for a foul or violation. It became my responsibility to ensure not only that the game was played by the rules, but that the spirit of the rules was understood by all. Further, it was my task to see that all violations were judged fairly. Did I make mistakes? Of course, I did.

As the nature of the game progressed, so did the job of officiating. As technology became available to players, coaches, and fans, every error took on added significance because of its increased visibility, and the demand for video review to achieve perfection took precedence over live judgment. Many, including game officials, were skeptical. I took the position that if video replay would correct an officiating error, then let’s move forward with it. No official wants an error to occur that would be detrimental to a player or team. I was supportive if the on-field official’s decision would continue to be involved.

For the 2017 season, the NFL has decided that the final decision of a video review will be determined by the NFL’s command center in New York. While the on-field crew referee will still review a given play (now from a tablet rather than the sideline video booth), the final decision will be at the discretion of the command center personnel. This procedure is detrimental to the state of trust long invested in the on-field officials. In effect, it can now be argued that the on-field officials can be challenged by a coach whose appeal to unseen arbiters says to the on-field official “I will go over your head to a higher authority to prove you are not important to this game.” Trust will be lost!

Will you log-in with your thoughts on video replay placed in the hands of NFL command center?

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