Rand: A bit of a bump is too close to call

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 5, 2012 - 12:46 AM

It was a long day of football for Gophers coach Jerry Kill in a 35-13 loss to Michigan on Saturday. (MARLIN LEVISON/STARTRIBUNE(mlevison@startribune.com

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

When watching or playing sports, we enter into a sort of contract that includes accepting that the outcome -- while primarily influenced by what athletes do on the field of play -- is also bound by a set of rules that can be highly subjective.

These rules are enforced by referees and officials who are trained and do the best they can. But at the end of the day they are also human, make mistakes and have the sum of their experiences as their guides toward making subjective decisions.

Strike or ball? Well, most umpires have seen many thousands of pitches before they call one specific pitch, and they have an idea of what they consider a strike even if it might not perfectly match the textbook definition of a strike.

In basketball, was that a charging foul on the offensive player or a blocking foul on the defensive player? Again, so very highly subjective.

That said, the most infuriatingly subjective call in all of sports is easy to choose. It is pass interference in football, and it is not even close. There might as well not even be a rule governing what is and what isn't pass interference these days because, if you watch a game, you often will be clueless when a flag does or doesn't come out.

If you watched the Gophers vs. Michigan game on Saturday, you saw coach Jerry Kill express that frustration. He was so hot after a pass interference call in the end zone, he could have melted the stripes right off the ref. The Wolverines might have felt the same way later in the game with a call that went against them.

College players, too, have learned from their pro role models how to not only sell the pass interference (careen off balance and flail if all else fails) but to demand it. It's not uncommon to see a wide receiver making the "pulling the flag out of the hip pocket" motion while gesticulating at a ref -- sometimes while the ball is still in the air!

At least in college, of course, the penalty on a deep ball will only cost a team 15 yards. The NFL would do well to adopt that rule; anyone who watched Troy Williamson knows that even the most flagrant of defensive pass interference violations does not prevent a sure-thing catch of a bomb. Simply awarding a team all the yardage that would have come from a catch? Too much.

If a rule is subjective by nature, however, there is no perfect way to craft it. We think the defensive players should get more leeway to bump, nudge and even occasionally grab. Or maybe an offensive player who flops and tries to sell pass interference could be nailed with unsportsmanlike conduct?

Or everyone could just try not to get so frustrated when the call doesn't go their way? If you are able to do that, you are better than most of us.

MICHAEL RAND

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia - LP: K. Kendrick 2 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 11
Milwaukee - WP: Y. Gallardo 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: D. Price 0
Arizona - WP: W. Miley 5 FINAL
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 4
Washington - WP: T. Roark 4 FINAL
Miami - LP: B. Hand 3
Oakland - LP: J. Hammel 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 8
Pittsburgh - LP: J. Wilson 5 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Machi 7
LA Angels - LP: G. Richards 3 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: K. Gausman 4
Seattle - LP: F. Hernandez 0 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 7
Toronto - WP: M. Buehrle 6 FINAL
Boston - LP: B. Workman 1
Colorado - WP: R. Scahill 6 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: W. Wright 4
NY Yankees - LP: H. Kuroda 2 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 3
Minnesota - LP: P. Hughes 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 3
Atlanta - LP: D. Hale 2 FINAL
Los Angeles - WP: J. Howell 3
St. Louis - LP: J. Kelly 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: J. Hahn 12
NY Giants 8/3/14 7:00 PM
Buffalo
Toronto FC 0 FINAL
D.C. 3
Colorado 0 FINAL
New England 3
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Chicago 0
Red Bull New York 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 1
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/7/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
Edmonton 8/8/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Hamilton 8/8/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Ottawa 8/9/14 6:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which upcoming event are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close