Sports would not be sports if not for questionable calls, second-guessing and debates about rules.
But we don’t always get all of that in one fell swoop like we did this weekend.
From the local level, where another crosstown rivalry game was postponed due to weather that hadn’t yet occurred, to a couple NFL conference championship games that were decided by refs and rules, it was a fun 48-hour weekend.
Weathering a rivalry
For the second time this school year, a game between Janesville Parker and Janesville Craig was postponed due to weather.
You’ll remember back in the fall when local administrators called off the annual battle for Monterey Rock eight or nine hours before it was to be played at Monterey Stadium.
There were potential storms and lightning in the forecast, so the football game was pushed from the Friday night lights to a Saturday night. Just about everyone else around here waited to see if the storms ever actually moved in, and when they didn’t they played Friday night.
At least this time the weather actually arrived.
But have we really reached a point where folks can’t make a trek across town through the snow? We do, after all, live in Wisconsin.
It probably wouldn’t have been an easy drive to Madison for the wrestling teams, so shelving those matches made some sense. Apparently it’s an all-or-nothing situation, and all after-school activities were called off.
Ninety-five percent of the time, that’s probably all fine and good. But I feel like if you’ve got a game between two teams from town, you play it unless we’re talking a blizzard.
The counterpoint to that second-guessing is that we’ve got more advanced warning for weather than ever before. A few inches of snow used to be a January day in Wisconsin, and now it’s a winter storm warning. Why put folks in potentially dangerous situations when it’s not necessary?
I get it. And the Cougars and Vikings got their game in right away the next day.
Life goes on, and now just a few days later we’re headed to winter weather again.
With a few more inches of snow on the way, at least one area basketball team had set a tentative makeup date for a game scheduled to be played today before the players were in bed Monday night.
Don’t be shocked if today’s games are all postponed, perhaps even by the time you’ve finished this column.
Where’s the flag?
For the first time in a while, there wasn’t much to second-guess about the Wisconsin basketball team, which knocked off No. 1 Michigan at the Kohl Center on Saturday.
But by Sunday, there was plenty for football fans to groan about—especially if you’re a Saints fan.
New Orleans led all day against the Los Angeles Rams and was a first down and a field goal away from advancing to the Super Bowl.
The Saints should have got that first down via a pass-interference penalty on a third down in the final stages of the fourth quarter. Every single person on earth saw pass interference, including the defensive back who committed the should’ve-been flag..
Everyone, that is, except the few guys in stripes that were paid to throw that flag.
No pass interference. The game-winning field goal wound up being a lead-taking field goal. The Rams drove for a field goal of their own to force overtime and won there.
It sounds like the potential for replay reviews of such situations will be discussed at league meetings going forward. It should be. We don’t need flag reviews every five minutes, but there needs to be a way to make sure a Super Bowl appearance doesn’t go up in smoke due to a blown call.
The second conference championship game had plenty of iffy calls of its own.
There were enough that went the Patriots’ way early that someone told me the game was rigged so New England would win. Then there were enough later that I got a text from someone who slept through the early portion of the game, saying the game was rigged for Kansas City to win.
But when all was said and done, those calls played second fiddle to everyone arguing again about the NFL overtime rules.
New England converted third-and-long three times and scored a touchdown on its OT-opening drive, ending the game right then and there.
Not fair, said those who hate coin flips and like college overtime and both teams getting a chance to possess the ball. Completely fair, said those who believe if the Chiefs wanted the ball they could have stopped the Patriots on any of those third-down plays.
I’ve read just about everything imaginable on Twitter since then, and the one argument I think that caught me the most was this: If it was baseball, it would be like the visiting team hitting a walk-off home run in the top of the 10th inning, with the home team not getting its chance in the bottom half.
That one might actually help sway my view and have me believing college OT rules are best.
Again, expect the NFL brass to at least bring up some changes in forthcoming meetings.
Because even the owners and commissioners are down for some good, ol’ second-guessing.