Thursday, April 26, 2018
Sports

A solution for awful NFL officiating? Simplify the rules

Officiating gaffes continue to be a story line of the 2015 NFL season, and the problem is not just human error.

Football rulebooks are too complicated and too freighted with zany distinctions: In high school, players must wear shoes, but socks are optional, while in the pros, players must wear socks but don't need to wear shoes.

And was it a catch or not a catch? In the offseason, the league said, "The language pertaining to a catch was clarified." The clarification is 158 words and incomprehensible to a Supreme Court clerk.

Rulebook simplification would improve officiating. As for replay review, how about making it blind? If the reviewing official did not know what call was made on the field, he or she wouldn't have observer bias.

The NFL's rulebook is 79 pages single spaced. The rulebook used in college, and in high school play in Massachusetts and Texas, is 73 pages single spaced. The National Federation of High Schools rulebook employed in all other states drones on for 112 pages.

No official could possibly remember everything in any of these documents. When zebras botched the call at the end of the Detroit-Seattle contest on Monday Night Football, no one on the officiating crew knew how to enforce the rule regarding deliberate batting of a loose ball. Excessively complicated football rules reflect the over-lawyering of contemporary life.

Football happens fast — "bang-bang" is the apt description. College action is faster than high school play, while at the NFL level, every player was the fastest guy on his college team. High-speed collisions mean that errors of judgment are inevitable; trying to keep all the rules in your head makes the situation worse. Simplifying the rulebooks would allow officials to concentrate on judgment.

Rules variations among the high school, college and pro levels add more layers of confusion. Pass interference is enforced differently in the NCAA from in the NFL. Some flags that are automatic first downs in the pros are not automatic first downs in college. Deliberate batting of a loose ball? Always illegal in high school, OK in the pros if the ball is batted toward the sidelines. But not if batted parallel to the sidelines!

People who become NFL officials usually begin at the high school or college levels — the celeb referee Ed Hochuli started by working Pop Warner games. If rules were standardized, zebras would need only to keep one set of rules in their heads, and would get more reps enforcing the unitary standards.

Maybe the solution to NFL yellow-flag woes would be full-time officials. The roughly $25 million the NFL now spends annually on officials is petty cash to a $12 billion organization.

Now the blind review idea. The basic premise of NFL review is that the call on the field should be overturned only if the replay official is certain the call was wrong.

Technology has made possible a shift of challenges to the NFL office in New York; the replay official no longer attends the game. Since the replay official now sits in an office, reviews would be more credible if the reviewer did not know the call on the field. New York Times

Comments
Don’t call it a comeback: Jonny Venters return to majors with Rays much more than that

Don’t call it a comeback: Jonny Venters return to majors with Rays much more than that

BALTIMORE — First, think of what you were doing on Oct. 5, 2012, and how much has happened in your own world since then.That will give you a time frame.Next, think of the challenge of rehabbing from two Tommy John surgeries and a third procedur...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning to face Bruins in East semifinals

Lightning to face Bruins in East semifinals

The Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 7-4 in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series Wednesday night and will face the Lightning in the Eastern Conference semifinals beginning Saturday at Amalie Arena.Here is the semifinal schedule:Saturday: at Tampa, 3...
Updated: 5 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 25

Wednesday’s scoreboardBaseballCanterbury 5, Shorecrest 4SoftballClass 6A, District 6 Semifinal: Springstead 10, Citrus 0
Updated: 5 hours ago
Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

Bucs draft scenarios: Would this guy be their lucky pick at No. 7?

TAMPA – This is the Rubiks Cube of NFL drafts. It can be twisted and turned it in any direction. Not many know how everything will line up.For the Bucs, the puzzle is simple.  Since they have the No. 7 overall pick, they need four quarterb...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBaseballTwins at Yankees1 p.m.MLBRays at Orioles7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMBrewers at Cubs8 p.m.MLBCollege baseballAuburn at Florida7 p.m.ESPNULSU at Mississippi 8 p.m.SECCollege lacrosse, womenACC tournament: Louisville vs. Boston College11 a.m.FSFAC...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Softball: Boca Ciega edges Tarpon Springs for 6A-9 title

Softball: Boca Ciega edges Tarpon Springs for 6A-9 title

DUNEDIN — It's hard to believe that we'll see a more emotional, more exciting game than this one throughout the rest of the postseason.Top seed Tarpon Springs and No. 2 Boca Ciega were fearless with the Class 6A-9 title on the line Wednesd...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Rays Journal: A win over ex-mate Cobb, and in a record way

BALTIMORE – The Rays knew there would be all kinds of mixed feeling seeing longtime former teammate Alex Cobb pitching against them in Orioles orange.And they made sure he didn't enjoy it.The Rays knocked Cobb out in the fifth inning, and rolle...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

Rays bring Jonny Venters back to majors

UPDATE, 5:34: Venters, understandably, was humbled and happy to make it back. "It's hard to put into words how I'm feeling," he said. "It's been an emotional day."Venters was in uniform in the Durham clubhouse during rain delay when he got called in ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Report: Former ‘Bama starting QB to visit USF

Report: Former ‘Bama starting QB to visit USF

USF's quarterback derby could have a prominent 11th-hour entrant.Former Alabama QB Blake Barnett, the Crimson Tide's opening day starter in 2016 who transferred to Arizona State shortly thereafter, is leaving Tempe as a grad transfer, several media o...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Art of the block: Get in the way of the puck. Expect pain.

Art of the block: Get in the way of the puck. Expect pain.

BRANDON — The welts and the bruises and — yes, even the broken bones — they are the badges given this time of year to the hearty souls who, in hockey vernacular, sacrifice the body.They are awarded to the guys who knock aside wrist ...
Updated: 12 hours ago