Is there anything worse in TV football than when they call the rules expert into the booth?
By the time he arrives on the scene we’ve already parsed the video to the nanosecond and figured out what we all saw the first time. He’s wholly unnecessary. And yet he weighs in as the video review inevitably drags on interminably as the zebras on the field get on the same page as the booth—a booth full of guys who have already hammered the dead horse with nunchuks for two minutes straight.
The net result is that on every big play we are celebrating only halfway, knowing the Mighty and Powerful Oz (complete with booming microphone voice) will reveal if we actually saw a touchdown or not– typically well after the fact, and right about 70% of the time.
This is compounded because the booth rules analyst ends up in the weird position of critiquing the official on the field—a former colleagues he genuinely likes and with whom he empathizes. So if the call needs to be reversed, or ultimately is made incorrectly even after review, we get lukewarm remarks:
“This all happens so fast”
“Those officials have a tough job”
The booth official is no longer an official– and yet he’s not a fan advocate either. He’s conflicted.
And it is not just catches. Now we have targeting calls and ejections that parse the letter of the rule rather than the intent of the player. This doesn’t make the game safer, it only makes us feel good. We’ve completely lost our way because we rely on rules experts who bring a two week African safari-level baggage with them to every comment.
This is not dissimilar to “news” men like George Stephanopoulos or Karl Rove.
Plucked from the political realm, they aren’t objective, so the very lens they use to offer analysis has a predetermined starting point and end game. Even if they know Trump is joking, or AOC is being taken out of context, they have to feign outrage and whip pitchfork nation into a frenzy. Because- clicks!
In the NFL we know exactly what we saw because we have video, but we’re told what we’ve seen isn’t actually what we’ve seen. A catch isn’t a catch because of an arbitrary interpretation of what is a “football move” and how you define “control of the ball”. The same exists in our politics. We know what politicians said and did but rely on “dog whistles” and “we all know what he means”.
Ironically fact checkers have become the worst form of partisan hackery using all form of verbal and written gymnastics to cut slack to their side.
We’ve completely lost our way. There is no objective truth in politics because there is no common understanding of the institutions in America and their role in our political process. Experts have been corrupted. So political and nonpolitical experts place an overlay on everything. And we eat it up even when it is clearly manufactured on the spot.
Anthony Fauci tells us we can go ahead and protest or turn out to vote, but we can’t go to the funeral of a loved one because it’s “too risky”.
Enter the ultimate rules expert in the booth to save us– the Supreme Court.
And yet they themselves are as bad as the commentators. They go on speaking tours and routinely tip their hands on issues, living lives as celebrities rather than arbiters.
Rather than determining Constitutional muster for a given issue, they actively work toward outcomes they’d like to see. Each Justice coming pre-loaded with a clear agenda to deliver their brand of justice, even stepping out of their lane to rewrite legislation to ensure constitutionality.
By any standard this is not their role, yet as largely partisan (something they should aspire to be above) they relish the power. Rather than the “adult in the room” through a lifetime appointment and minimal oversight they have become warriors in the politics of the day. There’s a reason activists wear RBG t-shirts– she’s one of them.
And it all began with the NFL and instant replay. What you saw isn’t what you think– allow our rules Sherpa lead you to the correct answer… Maybe… Maybe sometime soon… Possibly correctly…
The solution: trust your eyes, ignore the nonsense and drop any sense that the fallible humans elevated to the court or as analysts on TV will bring clarity to anything. They are just as big a part of the problem as Mike Pereira.