In the recent NFL playoff game between the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angles Rams a non-call at the end of the game has the sports world wringing its hands and shouting “FOUL!”
With 1:49 to go in the game Drew Breeze, the Saints quarterback threw a pass deep to Tommy Lee Lewis who seemed about to catch the ball within sight of the end zone which would allow the Saints to score a touchdown or run the clock down and kick the game-winning field goal. It seemed a sure thing. But, suddenly out of nowhere, as it seemed, Lewis was blind-sided by Nickell Robert-Coleman, a Rams defensive back. The ball fell to the ground. There were at least three fouls on that play and it was played over and over and over and over again as the world held its breath. But there was no flag! No flag therefore no foul. And the NFL rules do not allow the coach to demand a review of the play in the final two minutes of play. So the Saints settled for a field goal with enough time for the Rams to score one of their own and force the game into overtime where they won.
The airwaves, not to mention the city of New Orleans, were (and still are) full of calls for a replay of the game — or at least the final couple of minutes — which the Commissioner has the power to do. But it is not going to happen because the entertainment train is already at full speed promoting the Super Bowl between the Rams and the New England Patriots. Millions of fans around the world (who care) are dismayed, even outraged. It just was not FAIR!!
Strange, isn’t it? We expect our sports to be fair even though we can look the other way when politicians, for example, commit foul deeds daily. We have a sitting president who actually lost the election by nearly three million votes and who “won” because of an antiquated rule involving the Electoral College which, ironically, was instituted during the eighteenth century to guarantee that an unqualified person would never sit in the highest office in the land. As I say, ironic. And yet few shout “FOUL,” even though it certainly isn’t fair.
And, indeed, we can find innumerable instances of unfair practices going on all around us — people who are rich despite the fact that they never worked a day in their lives, people who are poor despite the fact that they hold down two jobs at once. We have a Congress that buries its collective head rather than admit that the climate is changing rapidly and will result in countless catastrophes. The government shutdown adversely affects nearly a million people who will have no income until it is over. It’s just not fair though we don’t hear many, aside from a few outraged bloggers, shouting “FOUL!”
But we expect our sports to be fair and then they are not we scream bloody murder. Strange indeed.
In this case, as a fan of the Minnesota Vikings, I recall a few years back when the New Orleans Saints had bounties on the Vikings in a play-off game; various Saints players awarded their fellows large amounts of money to those who could cripple their opponent or at least send him to the sidelines for the duration of the game. In fact, Brett Favre, the Minnesota quarterback at the time, was the main target and was so banged up after the game that he almost certainly could not have played in the Super Bowl if the Vikings had won. Which they did not.
So, perhaps, it is Karma? In any event I will not regret the outcome of the recent game and will simply say “Get over it!” Life isn’t fair. Perhaps it should be, but it just isn’t. At any rate, it’s only a game after all.
Ha! You beat me to the “it’s only a game” punchline.
For many Americans the game is the most important thing in their lives!
Good post, Hugh … thought-provoking as always. True, it’s only a game, and in the grand scheme of things not nearly as important as 800,000+ federal workers being unpaid for months, more than half still being expected to report for work each day. But still … sports … isn’t that the very thing we think of as building character in our youth? Teaching the value of teamwork? What sort of an example does it set if sports are as dirty and dishonest as politics? Doesn’t it send the same message that Donald Trump has put forth — that it’s all about winning? Sort of takes the meaning out of ‘sportsmanship’, doesn’t it?
That’s what worries me. Sports are one of the few places in this culture where folks know they will at times fail and they can learn and grow from it. The irony I point to is a sad one.
Hugh, well said. Perspective is important. If a politician must cheat to win, then that speaks volumes as to their veracity.
As for the Saints, the game continued after the bad call. How athletes react to errors is a key part of the game. The Saints got their field goal to go ahead and then their defense allowed the Rams tie it up and win in overtime.
I am reminded of the Chicago Cubs melt down after the fan interfered with a catchable foul ball in the stands. On the flip side, I am reminded of Bjorjn Borg losing the infamously long fourth set tiebreaker to John McEnroe, then winning the final set to claim the Wimbledon championship.
PS – As I typed this, a woman on Wheel of Fortune blew an easy solve, but then came back to win big. She could have moped. But, she did not.
As Jill noted in her comment: sports are one of the few places left where people can learn those valuable life lessons. Losing a game is not the worst thing that can happen to a person — or a city, either.
Footnote: The Republican United States Senator from Louisiana took valuable time during the Federal shut-down to excoriate the NFL for its failure to act following the brew-ha-ha mentioned above! Can you believe it??!!
So New Orleans reached the finals; your post is the first to enlighten me, the woman who emerges from her immersion in a culture wayyyyy removed from what it happening in the USA! It must have been a good game, until those final two minutes – when anyone watching surely came to the same conclusion – and was in disbelief – or elated about that call – or lack of call.
I hope that all is OK and you can stay home during the winter storm. News of the extreme cold sweeping through the country has reached my cyber news station; i don’t miss the winter at all. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr. How well I remember one February ice storm that left a path of destruction through Mississippi. My son was in high-school basketball playoffs, and we couldn’t leave the house and drive to the game. We cleared debris for two days – just to be able to get out of the drive, and we were two weeks without power – my father was a month w/o power… oh no, give me warm weather and tropical challenges!
I guess basketball season is going well, though I’ve not peeked at any stats there either. When a Mississippi team reaches playoff status, I get a bit loca in March Madness as well!
(Always interested in Rod Barnes’s players in California as well)
Allow me to envy you and your warm weather!