And Now, Sports.

Close on the heels of my last episode I find myself drinking a fine beer, eating a plate of goulash and potato dumplings, and watching hockey. I noticed something else about the sport that embodies toughness. Not only do players get up when then are knocked down, they also don’t whine about the call they got or didn’t get. They go to the box or they keep on skating. I saw a bad call and the alleged offender left the ice without comment. It was a weak call at a critical moment, but he sat without whining about it. Sure, while serving the penalty he might be cursing the ref, but he’s not going to hurt his team further by making an ass of himself. He’s there to play hockey.

There was a time in basketball when a player would raise his hand when a foul was called on him, to make things easier for the scorekeeper. That doesn’t happen anymore. If I was an NFL ref, I’d throw the flag on any receiver who made the “throw the flag” gesture. American football is the absolute worst for players bitching and moaning to the officials. Just. Play. The damn. Game.

Hockey. They just play.

13 thoughts on “And Now, Sports.

  1. Not true: baseball is the worst because human judgment is used in every single pitch. And judgment is used at each base to determine “safe” or “out”. This intricate involvement of the omniscient (or at least omnipotent) umpire in all areas of the game is both baseball’s greatest weakness and greatest strength, although I think the relative simplicity of the rules being enforce by human judgment (safe or out, in the strike zone or out) make the entire exercise palatable (and, therefore, marketable).

    Football and basketball suffer from the fact that the same holding/blocking occurs on every play and the question becomes just when do the officials bother to call it.

    But as you often point out, soccer is the worst for trying to draw the call.

  2. By the way, far worse to me on the annoy-o-meter than cry baby pro athletes are obnoxious sports parents who participate in the game from the stands, invariably informing the referee to “Call ’em both ways” when the last call was against their sons’ team.

  3. Uh, uh Keith. Baseball is a great sport because it uses the human judgment of the ump. You might not like the call but seldom if ever is it reversed. You don’t like it? Blue will give you the hook.

    A pox on the instant replay!

  4. All sports are vulnerable to inconsistent officiating, it’s the lack of whining in Hockey that makes it better. Baseball has quite a bit less whining than football or basketball.

    I expect that the prima donna athletes learned their whining skills from their obnoxious parents in the stands.

  5. One of the virtues of baseball is that it is more human and thoughtful than other sports. Yes, the umpires might make mistakes, but at least in theory the mistakes they make are evenly balanced and don’t favor one team over another. At the major-league level, the umpires are highly trained and experienced, so they don’t often make mistakes, but they will make one once in a while. Baseball players and fans should (and for the most part I believe they do) accept the umpires’ mistakes as just one more random factor that might influence a game, such as a sudden gust of wind that carries a ball over the outfield wall for a home run instead of letting an outfielder catch it for an out.

    I do, however, believe that the ideal of sportsmanship has been lost in many sports. The example you cite of NBA players’ no longer holding up a hand to own up to a foul is a biggie. One of the reasons I don’t watch NBA basketball any more is that I really don’t like all of the me-me-me attitude of the star players. If I wanted to watch trash-talking thugs, I’d watch pro wrestling. If I want to see athleticism and sportsmanship, I watch women’s college basketball. (Alas, I’m afraid even that arena is beginning to be corrupted by ego-fever and big money.)

  6. Oh, I very much like the human element in judging baseball. But it’s pretty much got to be binary: safe or out, fair or foul, ball or strike.

    Because it’s when the judging element moves from binary to a subjective “how good was it” that the trouble starts. Take gymnastics or ice skating. Please.

    Thank goodness we’ll always have the purity of Track and Field, where the rules are simple no one cheats, and pure souls race only against the clock.

  7. I’m a fan of synchronized swimming.

    I went to an underground location to score some ‘roids and professional wrestling broke out. The cops came and they all escaped on their tour-d-france bicycles.

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