The edge that was not and toys in the cot
When did a referee’s decision on the sporting field become an open invitation to criticise and offer one’s own interpretation on the ruling?
Sport and emotion go hand in hand. It’s a combination that makes the former great and loved by so many Australians.
When that passion erupts – both on and off the field – after a questionable decision, the mix is unfortunately also everything that’s wrong with sport in 2012.
Whatever happened to accepting the umpire’s decision, right or wrong, in the spirit of good sportsmanship?
Have we become so focused on winning that ‘sportsmanship’ has become a foreign term to players and fans?
Don’t get me wrong. I know as well as anyone that on-field officials stuff up.
I still remember playing in a state cricket carnival when I was 15 and being given out caught behind, even though my bat hadn’t gone within four inches of the delivery in question.
As I played the stroke and looked up, I recall being stunned at seeing Mr Magoo’s finger pointing skyward.
I knew I hadn’t hit it.
The bowler, by that stage ecstatic and running towards the slips cordon, knew I hadn’t edged it.
The smug wicketkeeper, who was as surprised as I was when the umpire’s finger went up, told me outright he knew I hadn’t hit it when he appealed.
I guess I could have stood my ground and thrown a hissy fit, but what would that have proved?
The biggest message my junior sport coaches ingrained in me was “love sport, but be a good sport”.
It’s a credo I hear coaches in Mount Isa reinforcing every weekend as they mentor and develop the sportspeople of tomorrow.
Clearly, sportsmanship still exists.
If that’s the case, why have so many people forgotten the concept of sportsmanship after they have made the transition to the senior ranks?
In my three months in Mount Isa, I’ve seen countless examples of people questioning a referee’s decision after they believe it went against them.
More often than not, the question is posed in the form of a nonsensical, vitriolic spray, after which the offender generally explains why the referee was wrong and what they can do with their whistle.
The disappearance of sportsmanship isn’t something unique to local and amateur sport.
This was most clearly evident during last week’s State of Origin opener.
Greg Inglis’ controversial 73rd-minute try was awarded by video referee Sean Hampstead, Blues supporters across the country erupted and began crying foul.
Things weren’t any better on the field.
“What is it? The arm or the leg mate? How the hell is that a try? Mate, this is out of control. This is ridiculous, where this is getting,” screamed NSW captain Paul Gallen.
In a way, Gallen was right.
Things were getting ridiculous, like the way he was acting like a petulant six-year-old whose twin brother just scored a better birthday present.
It doesn’t matter whether or not Hampstead was right or wrong in his decision.
He was a match official and his ruling was that it was a Queensland try.
Referees are people. People make mistakes.
While it’s difficult to accept, referees will occasionally make poor – or outright wrong – decisions.
How we, be it as players or spectators, react to the poor decisions make or break sport.
No one likes a bad call, especially if it changes the game, but we need to accept it will happen from time to time.
The more sport you play or watch, the odds of you being on the receiving end of a bad decision increase exponentially.
If you can’t accept that, perhaps you should distance yourself from sport altogether.
It’s okay to be passionate about your sport; in fact, it’s encouraged.
What’s not acceptable is to leave your sportsmanship in the boot of your car when you grab your kitbag before a game or event.
Be emotional on the field or from the sideline, but please leave your toys in the cot if a decision doesn’t go your way.