Honestly, I was ready to move on past the Penalty story, but it looks like it’s crossed over from being a mere partisan concern to a political one. By “political”, I mean that Rogers Redding and his posse have moved into the ass-covering, arrogant phase of dealing with the matter.
Take, for example, this wonderful sentiment:
“We move on,” Redding said. “This is a teachable moment for us to let the officials know to remind them of the rule and remind them of their responsibility to make good judgments. This is always going to be a judgment call just like pass interference is a judgment call or holding or roughing the passer or offsides or anything else.”
“We move on” is bureaucrat-ese for “tough shit, losers”. And for all that high-minded nonsense about making good judgments, let’s not forget the initial response to the criticism.
The officiating crew said in a statement issued by the SEC on Saturday night that “following a brief team celebration, Green made a gesture to the crowd calling attention to himself.” [Emphasis added.]
The cynic in me wonders why the conference didn’t exercise better judgment and wait until it had a chance to review tape before reflexively supporting the official who made the call.
And after reading this letter that David Ching posted, it occurs to me that Redding’s posturing isn’t so much for the benefit of the individual officials who are faced with making these calls, but for the people who are supposed to be giving those very officials the direction and guidance they need to enforce the rule.
A little history on the “Celebration” Rule might help everyone to better understand the current, more rigid situation:
The NCAA Rules Committee consists of 16 members from different size schools from around the country. These Rules Committee members are all well respected, intellegent [sic] individuals that have good intentions for the game of football but many of them do not know the “ins and outs” of the game on a grand scale…only 6 of these members are from Division I-A schools and there is very little representation for or input requested from the actual football officials before rule changes are made!
Every year, the NCAA Football Rule & Interpretations Book has a “Points of Emphasis” section for the new season and every year, “Sportsmanship and Penalty Enforcement of Unsportsmanlike Acts” is in this section…it is covered in detail and thoroughly discussed in every college football officials clinic and training session across the country before every season. The obvious purpose for this is to have uniform and consistant [sic] enforcement of the NCAA Rules wherever a college football game is played and regardless of what conference officials are working the game!
The trend toward individuals drawing attention to themselves, rather than celebrating with their teammates, began in the late 1960s and has continued to grow, due greatly to the increase in TV coverage at more games and the influence that the NFL players have on college players. As a result of the changing attitudes of players and their negative actions on the field, subsequent rules committees have added specific violations and severe penalties to these rules so that today’s “Celebration” Rule has very little flexibility!
What makes this so problematic isn’t outright racism, as Tim Brando recently hinted, or anti-SEC bias against Richt (although, as I said in a recent post, the call was so bad I certainly can understand anyone at this point who raises that sort of question). It’s the cultural divide that exists between people like Redding and the kids that are trying to play an emotional game within limits that aren’t always made clear to them. David Hale gets to the heart of this brilliantly.
… I find it nearly impossible to believe that there is any direct racial discrimination happening here, but I also am worldly enough to know that we all bring our preconceived biases to the table in everything we do. This rule is interpretive by the officials, and as Rogers Redding told me today, that leaves a lot of room for criticism.
“The officials are called upon to try to draw the line between what’s allowable in terms of teenage enthusiasm and what is either demeaning to an opponent or casts a negative image on the game from a standpoint of a player singling himself out and drawing attention to himself after making a really great play or a routine play,” Redding said.
So I’ll ask you, does your background — your opinions on things like tattoos and dreadlocks and dancing on the sidelines, your thoughts about how people talk and what type of music they listen to — do those things affect how you might judge a person’s actions?
None of these decisions are made in a vacuum, so while I don’t believe for a second that there are nefarious motives here, the way the rule is written leaves the door open for many of our preconceived notions about other people to sneak into the decisions being made.
And that in a nutshell is what the problem is with the rule, or, more accurately, proper enforcement of the rule.
I’ve got two final observations to make before shutting up for good on this topic. First of all, Redding is completely full of fecal matter when he says this:
David Hale: After reviewing the film of the excessive celebration flags in the Georgia-LSU game, what did you see?
Rogers Redding: The first and the last one were fine. The one that followed the touchdown with a minute to go, we felt like after reviewing the video that the call should not have been made.
If what Charles Scott did justified a penalty, then flags should be flying five or ten times a game, every game. That call got made for one reason and one reason only: the officials knew they’d made a mistake with the penalty on Green and had no choice but to call the one on Scott to cover their asses. Which makes all of the “teachable moment” and “good judgment” blather nothing but sanctimonious claptrap.
Second, with all this concern about a player’s “attempts to focus attention upon himself”, as the rule states, how come there isn’t a similar concern about an official’s attempt to do the very same thing?
I’m sure Redding will get back to us on that sometime.