Doug’s Dugout: The Human Element

January 31, 2019

The 2019 NFC Championship Game will long be remembered as the game with “the non-called penalty” that was seen around the world. There is little argument that the New Orleans Saints should be heading to Super Bowl instead of the Los Angeles Rams because of an obvious pass interference that was never called.

Was the outcome fair? No way!

Had the interference been called, the Saints would have run out the clock and won the game. But, the call was not made. It’s a shame that the penalty flag was not thrown and that the outrageous no-call could not be corrected.

The human element of the game, namely the seven guys in the black and white stripes, dictated the outcome of what had been an amazing football game. The human element kept New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees from making a trip to Atlanta. But that’s the way that the cookie crumbles.

In a world of re-plays, booth reviews, technological calls on iPads, etc., there is less and less chance of a bad call being made in college and professional sports.

Soon, there may be no need for umpires or referees at all. A computer analyzing the game will someday send out a signal that will blow a horn and light up a brilliant light on the scoreboard indicating that an infraction had occurred.

But is that what has made sports so intriguing to this point in time?

The human element has always been around. Mistakes have always been made. Questionable calls have decided more than just a few important outcomes. But the more we attempt to “modernize” the games, the more of that human touch disappears.

I will be the first to admit that the back judge who blew the interference call in New Orleans made a huge error and he should be reprimanded for not throwing his flag. He blew it. But also remember that there is an unwritten rule in sports that says, “let them play” in the closing moments of a game.

How many times have you watched a basketball game and fouls were called for simply looking at someone the wrong way, but in the closing seconds a player will go up for the winning layup, get smashed on the arm by three different defensive players, pushed to the floor and no foul is called?

How many times have we seen blatant holding calls ignored in football games in the closing seconds of a close game?

Who would want to make “the call” that could change the outcome of the game in front of a gym or stadium full of screaming fans?

This time the “no call” had drastic results. It has sent the professional football upper echelon scrambling to make sure that this doesn’t happen again in the future. Rumor has it that pass interference calls are going to be added to the reviewable play lists in the future so that we don’t have a replay (pardon the pun) of the Saints/Rams game in future seasons.

We will never know what would have happened with complete 100% certainty had the interference infraction been called, but the human element is something that made for an interesting week of conversations in the world of professional football.

Doug Phillips is a freelance writer for the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at SCHsports@lee.net