To review or not to review, that is the question
Officials have been at the heart of way too many decisions in all major sports. Whether it's a blown call, a call not overturned when reviewed, or a call being apologized for after it has ruined a game, things are getting more out of hand as opposed to them getting any better. I wrote about this earlier this year, but it's time to revisit the issue. There are so many varying factors as to why officiating needs to be addressed, but here are some of the things I think are most critical:
Now that all major pro sports have some sort of challenge system, they all need to be fine tuned. What can/can't be challenged, the time in which a challenge can be issued, and how many times a team can challenge a call all need to be fine tuned. I believe the number of timeouts should be tied to the number of challenges. Challenges need to be made in a decisive fashion, which means...
Who makes the final ruling?
Whoever makes the final ruling on challenges needs to be held just as, if not more, accountable as the officials making the calls on the field of play. There needs to be an assigned replay official for every game with a team ready and already reviewing every call to ensure accuracy. They can also serve as feedback for officials' grading process, which factors into which officials and/or crews are allowed to preside over postseason games/series. These people need to be former and/or current officials, along with former players to ensure a balance is there. I say former players because the officials have a way of protecting their own. Prime example: the way NFL refs piss all over the pass interference challenges. There needs to be a more definitive, concise, and efficient way to rule on challenges instead of watching officials look at a monitor with an earpiece in until they're ready to tell the crowd what they've found out.
Postgame press availability
Coaches and players have been made to answer the media's questions pre and postgame for as long as I can remember. While there are specific times in which the media has access to coaches and players, officials have never been called to the carpet when it comes to media availability. The NBA refs has an official Twitter account that answers questions and puts out info from their perspective. Other leagues tend to leave it to the league's official Twitter accounts, or more specifically, the media that covers those sports to put out such info. How much of a game changer would it be to see and hear from the officials themselves? Officials in most sports try to make themselves apart of the action anyway. Why not give them the spotlight so many of them crave anyway? After all, some of them are failed athletes in the sport they're officiating in anyway.
Is there anything I left out? Am I off-base here? What do you guys think? Some that know me will assume this is a reactionary piece to my Saints losing to the 49ers, and they'd be dead ass wrong. This is about the kid who was so fascinated by the September 20, 1993 Monday Night Football matchup of Joe Montana's Chiefs vs John Elway's Broncos on that his parents got a portable TV set that could plug into a cigarette lighter so he could watch the game while we were on a road trip back home. This is about the grown man who's sick of hearing the fans and media alike complain, make excuses, and banter about poor officiating. It's about games that I, and most of you, love to watch that are getting ruined far too often because of what most consider "human error." While technology has made several improvements on officiating, there's still some room for improvement. Let's make this happen dammit! I'm sick of writing about this! it's time for action!