Fair Play in Pro Sports

This is going to be one hell of a biased blog, with a sure bias towards teams I like, but its just a topic that’s been on mind way too long.

So many big games have been impacted by umpiring ‘errors’, and while a bulk of these should be genuine errors, sometimes they begin to stretch the statistics of being truly random. Ofcourse you notice more when the team you support is at the receiving end. I noticed a lot in the Pittsburg-Seattle Superbowl 3 years ago and all the memories came back during the Pittsburg-Cardinals superbowl when a very similar wrong call was overturned after review. Why was in not overturned in Jan 2006? What was at stake was the enthusiasm of millions of fans, but much more than that billions of dollars in bets and merchandise sales. Is all that not enough to ask for a fair game.

Or is it actually more beneficial for the sport to have that level of unfairness, just to keep the fans charged up and some level of unexpected looming. After all it would be kind of boring if the best team always won.

Its not NFL, its everywhere, in Cricket, in MLB, Soccer.. everywhere. Bad decisions create the rivalries that sell. India-Pakistan matches in Sharjah got a whole new meaning after a series of bad decisions. The rivalry got so big that there would often be loads of broken TV sets and even a couple of suicides.

Are these bad decisions a case of short term loss for a long term gain? Would the sport become too mechanical if the element of human error was taken out?

A lot of sporting bodies seem to be making effort to use technology to reduce human error, but none seems to be willing to go the step to eliminate it. The logical and common reasons are cost of the technology and the reduction in speed of the game. Is crowd interest a third reason? Is it just a ploy to keep the masses hungry for more?

The big overarching question remains: are the errors completely random in nature? i.e. in the long term they would happen as often for a team as against. As a fan with very strong favorites, I don’t think they are random but, am I a fair judge? I don’t worry as much about the unfairness in F1 racing because I follow Ferrari, which is usually at the good end of these decisions…

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