Something has to be done to change the rapid decline in officiating

Bad calls ruining good games

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Referees, umpires, and officials have always been highly scrutinized and we all know that officiating games is a thankless job, but we have finally reached a breaking point where bad calls are starting to ruin sports. You know something needs to change when both the NFC and AFC Championship games need overtime to decide which teams would go to the Super Bowl and yet the takeaway will be controversial calls in both games instead of history-making plays. In a world where technology continues to get better and better and replay has become a part of all 3 major leagues, somehow, some way, the level of officiating has seemingly dropped to an all-time low. From replay not being allowed during certain portions of the game or on plays occurring outside of the final minutes of a half, to human error that cannot be challenged or corrected, the frustration level for fans has gone through the roof. I realize that a major concern for the governing bodies of professional sports is the time a game takes to play and how that has an adverse effect on broadcast partners, national networks and impatient fans. With all that said, the ultimate goal for every league and every game is to get the calls right no matter what it takes so that the players ultimately decide the outcome of the contests. If the people on the competition committee of all these professional sports don't put their heads together and come up with better ways of assuring that calls are correct and replay reviews are used, we could be heading towards a very dark time as fans.

If you watched both NFL games yesterday, or even one of the two contests, you couldn't help but walk away shaking your head at several bad calls and no calls that helped to decide the outcomes. What's worse than that, on multiple occasions rulings that were made were sketchy at best and no calls that were obviously wrong were not corrected. From pass interference that wasn't called to face mask penalties and catch/no catch plays, fans were left scratching their heads and wondering if the right team really won the game? What makes things worse is that the NFL doesn't have any policy in place that requires them to provide explanations as to why certain calls and decisions were made and the basis behind them. Broadcasters and fans are left to guess and assume why a certain outcome was inforced instead of being informed of rules and shown the conclusive video to reinforce specific calls. There were also multiple calls made on the field that replay proved to be incorrect, with no way of correcting them or challenging them to assure that the right ruling was made. Something has to change!

In the NBA calls seem to be getting worse on a nightly basis and the replay system is still too limited to correct a large number of incorrect calls on the floor during important times in a game. Even with the league expanding replay and implementing a reporting system that comes out within 24 hours of the completion of a contest explaining key calls and admitting inaccurate decisions, there are still far too many bad calls deciding and affecting outcomes. The kicker here is that, while being as transparent as possible in admitting errors, there is no system in place to go back and replay games from the point at which bad calls are made, so all the report does is exploit how bad the refereeing has gotten in one of the top sports leagues in the world. Sure it's nice for a player, coach, team and fan base to get the peace of mind in knowing that the wrong call was made and inevitably cost your team points or worse yet a game, but it doesn't change the outcome or the standings and they don't get a "do over." So unless the goal is to throw salt in a wound or to look as bad as possible as a league, there really is no reason to have the Final Two Minutes Report issued on a daily basis. The league also has made it mandatory that the crew chief of the officials that were on a game where a controversial call occurred, be made available to answer questions from the media immediately following the completion of the game in question. This is done to provide clarity, answers, and explanations as to the thought process and rules involved in their on court decisions. The bad thing again is, it won't change the outcome of the game so all it does is publicize and draw attention to incorrect calls. On top of that, in many of these incidents and interviews, the crew chief is not the referee who made the call in question so you are left with more suspicion than validation. There has to be a better way!


The biggest issues in Major League Baseball are being as consistent as possible calling balls and strikes, as well as replay review and getting calls right on the field. Last year in the regular season and the playoffs, replay review was used on multiple calls and the wrong call was still the final outcome on the field. There was also a season-long debate about what can be done to have a more consistent and accurate strike zone on a nightly basis? Umpires are against an electronic strike zone and feel it will eventually lead to the elimination of their jobs. gain, if the ultimate goal is to make sure they get the call right, why not utilize technology to make that happen more consistently? We already have K-Zone technology on almost every local and national TV telecast so viewers can see how good or bad an umpire is doing calling a game, why not use similar resources to guarantee the players and coaches that the right calls are being made as well? The commissioner is deeply concerned about game length and the time it takes to play an MLB game but most fans know what they are getting into when they buy a ticket or turn on a game broadcast. A few more minutes added on to the length of time it takes to play a game, to make sure the integrity of the game is no longer in question seems like a small price to pay in the big picture and grand scheme of things.

I don't have all the answers in terms of how to utilize replay and technology more to make sure the right right calls are made and bad calls are corrected, but I do know something has to be done soon. There are lots of league officials smarter than me with a much higher pay grade, that are on competition committees for their given sport and charged with upgrading rules and implementing technology. These are the folks that have to put their heads together and figure it out before it's too late. You'd rather have games take a little longer but the right calls and decisions made, than the alternative of having huge games tainted and remembered for flags that weren't thrown and whistles that should have been blown.

Vikings 28, Cowboys 24

Cowboys-Vikings: Good, bad and ugly

Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Sunday's night's game between Minnesota and Dallas left a lot to be desired for Cowboys fans. Although it was a good game from a football perspective and competitive until the very end, poor play calling in the Red Zone cost them another victory as the Vikings secured a 28-24 win in Arlington.

The Good

Dak Prescott had a strong game with 397 passing yards and only one interception on a Hail Mary to end the game. Prescott seemed to be playing with an abundance of confidence as compared to previous games in which the Cowboys lost. The Vikings' defense was able to stop the Cowboys' run game early and often which forced Prescott to try and beat the Vikings through the air. He performed admirably and almost led the Cowboys to a comeback victory.

Both teams had great offensive performances with tons of crazy circus-like catches. Amari Cooper had two of those crazy catches. One gem was a toe-tapping reception that set up a 23-yead Michael Gallup touchdown two plays later. His other catch was a 12-yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 21-20. Cooper led the game in catches with 11 receptions on 14 targets for 147 yards. Prescott and Cooper have looked in sync since his return from his injury that forced him to miss the Eagles game.

Randell Cobb recaptured some of his old Packers' magic and had his best game as a Cowboy. He had six receptions for 106 yards and one touchdown. Both Prescott and Cobb were on the same page for multiple plays, and it is a good indication that he will be utilized more going forward.

The Bad

The Cowboys could not get the run game going against Minnesota's stellar defensive line. After three straight 100-yard games, Ezekiel Elliot only rushed for a total of 47 yards on 20 carries. This forced the Cowboys to adjust their game plan and made Prescott prime to beat the Vikings defense. Everything worked in the Vikings favor early on when they scored two quick touchdowns.

Normally it is the Cowboys' offense that gets off to slow starts, but this time it was the defense that couldn't step up in the first quarter. Kirk Cousins was able to torch the Cowboys' secondary for 220 yards and two passing touchdowns to Kyle Rudolph. Even without their Pro Bowl Receiver Adam Thielen, the Vikings receivers feasted on the Cowboys' secondary. The Kubiak offense was on full display as his famous bootleg screens and run blocking schemes left the Cowboys dazed and confused as to how to stop the Vikings.

Dalvin Cook had a field day with the Cowboys' defense, rushing for 97 yards and had seven receptions for 86 yards. Compared to last week, guys like Sean Lee and Demarcus Lawrence had subpar games. Leighton Vander Esh returned from his one game absence, but was practically a no show when it came to stopping the Vikings run game.

The ugly

Jason Garret and Kellen Moore could be credited for some gutsy play calls on offense Sunday night. The Cowboys even lined up in the Wild Cat formation at one point. The change in offensive strategy worked in the first half, but the play calling regressed when they were insistent on running the ball. This was most apparent in the 4th quarter when the boys were down by four in the red zone. The Cowboys had a first down at the Minnesota 19 but insisted on continuing to force the ball to Elliott when the Vikings had made it clear they could shut him down. After three dismal running plays, Prescott then tried to force a pass to Elliot which was deflected by Vikings Linebacker Eric Kendricks. This pitiful selection of plays ultimately cost the Cowboys the game and put Jason Garret back on the hot seat.

For the Vikings, Kyle Rudolf had a great game. It seemed as though anyone who the Cowboys sent to cover him would be in trouble. He had a total of three red zone scores, two touchdowns and one 2-point conversion. His first touchdown was a great one-handed catch that Sean Lee couldn't do anything about. On his other two scores both Lee and Chidoble Awuzie couldn't cover him. He scored 14 of the Vikings 28 points and was their biggest weapon in the red-zone.

For the third straight game, Jeff Heath left with an injury. I give kudos to his toughness and willingness to come back to the field as soon as possible, but if he is hurt he should not be on the field. When healthy, Heath is a pro bowl safety and could have been an answer for Rudolf. Heath suffered a shoulder injury which caused him to leave the game in the first half. If he is still hurt, the Cowboys should consider resting him a week or two.

The next team the Cowboys will see is the injury-riddled Lions. Although this game may look easy on paper, the Cowboys should never underestimate their opponent again after what happened during the Jets game. The Cowboys are currently tied with the Eagles atop the NFC East. Both team schedules get tough after next week, so expect a grueling race to take place in the NFC East going forward.




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