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Between The Lines 2/5/13

POSTED February 05, 2013
BY John Nestor
Twitter: @nestorjdn

Between The Lines 

Refereeing can be a thankless job, and I'm not here to pile on officials of any sport. What I am going to do is look at a couple of things that have stood out to me over the past few weeks regarding officiating.

I really started thinking about being an official and reffing games over the past week. I had a conversation with a local referee while watching a game last week and  you couldn't help but think about officials if you are a sports fan who watched the Super Bowl.

First we'll start with the big game.

The Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers staged a good Super Bowl. Plenty of drama, a comeback, a power outage, brother vs. brother. The game had a little of everything, including bad officiating.

It's tough to ref games, things happen in real time, replay helps get things right for the most part but has to have officials second-guessing themselves etc. But the 

Super Bowl exposed a pet peeve of mine, rules don't change just because a game is in crunch time.

On the play that essentially decided the game, 49ers receiver Michael Crabtree was held and then interfered with by Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith. Smith threw on a bear hug and then got a hold of Crabtree's jersey for good measure. It was 4th-and-goal from the five and just 1:46 was left on the clock. The 49ers should have had a first down just inside the three and a chance to pull off what would have been the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Instead Smith decided there was no way Crabtree was getting to the ball and he put the onus on the official, standing right there in front of the play, and who 

swallowed his whistle like it was a tasty helping of New Orleans gumbo. I know the argument of not wanting officials to determine outcomes and "letting them play" but this would have been a penalty in the first quarter and should have been one in the fourth as well.

It's frustrating to see officials refuse to do their jobs and then have excuses made for them, "They're just letting the players decide the outcome."

It would be like my teacher friends out there saying to their students,"Ok guys, great job for the first three semesters, great work. But now it's the fourth marking period, crunch time, you've got to go out there and get it done. I don't care how, just do it."

So after three semesters of studying and hard work would it be OK for students to cheat, plagiarize, steal tests and get passing grades by any means necessary? I don't think it would but that's exactly the argument you are making if you think the rules should change when a game enters the closing minutes.

Now I'll speak on behalf of officials, especially local ones. Give 'em a break.

The ref I spoke to was pretty blunt in his assessment of our local towns and their treatment of officials, and it wasn't pretty. While some town's are worse than others, overall the outlook was pretty grim and it should stop.

If you're a parent or fan and you're complaining about every call or complaining just about every trip down the floor about not getting a call, take a break and realize something. It's not them, it's you. Yes your kid does travel from time to time and does commit a foul, deal with it and move on.

We talked about a bunch of other stuff as well. How tough it is for beginning officials, positioning, the toughest calls to make etc. And it was an eye opener as to what goes into officiating a game. So let's lay off the refs as long as they give us one thing in return, that the fourth quarter remains crunch time, but doesn't turn into anything goes. 

We have the Super Bowl for that.

TOURNEY BOUND? After a 1-8 start the Litchfield girls basketball team is 6-10 and two wins away from a berth in the Class S state tournament with four games left. The Cowgirls meet Wilcox Tech at home Wednesday and host rival Wamogo on Friday. A win in either of those games will likely get Litchfield in the postseason. A game at 

Lewis Mills on Feb. 11 will be touch but the Cowgirls close the regular season at home against Gilbert, which is 0-16 this season.

Another girls teams fighting for a state tournament spot in Class S is Wamogo (6-10).

It will be a much tougher road for Warriors, who are on the road for the final four games of the regular season and don't have a guaranteed win left on the schedule 

(Canton, Litchfield, Housatonic and Northwestern). Housy and Terryville (both 8-8) are already in the Class S field and Thomaston (15-1) is four wins away from being the top seed in Class S.

NEWS AND NOTES: The Northwestern boys are one of two unbeaten basketball teams left in the state with top-ranked Hillhouse (Class LL) being the other. The Highlanders are five wins away from being the top seed in Class M and their two toughest remaining games (Gilbert and Terryville) are both at home. ... If the Class S boys tournament started today the Berkshire League would have three of the top nine seeds. Terryville (12-2) is fourth, Gilbert (10-3) is seventh and Nonnewaug (9-5) is ninth. ... If you're a golf fan the 2013 season is setting up pretty well. We are only through the first weekend in February and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have already recorded wins. It should be an interesting run up to The Masters in April, which is the real start of Spring for me.

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