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National Championship The Cruelest Call

Virginia's Kyle Guy (5) takes a shot as Auburn's Samir Doughty (10) was called for a foul during the second half in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament on April 6 in Minneapolis. Guy sank all three free throws and Virginia defeated Auburn 63-62. 

SIOUX CITY – One thing I’ve learned in all my years of either playing, covering or watching sports as a casual fan, is that situations sometimes don’t turn out the way you would like them to.

Back in the day when I was playing high school sports, I can vividly recall plenty of times when the outcome of a game hinged on an official’s call. It either went for you or against you and you had to live with it, plain and simple, whether you liked it or not.

Nowadays, however, folks seem to have a hard time accepting the fact that calls aren’t always going to go their way and they’re going to come out on the short end of the scoreboard at times.

Perhaps I’m showing my age and becoming a grumpy old so-and-so, but so be it.

I’m all for my team winning, but in my opinion, replays are becoming too much a part of every sporting event.

There are replays and replays of those replays and another look at the replays of those replays. You get my drift. That not only disrupts the game, but entirely takes the human element out of it.

For whatever reason, I’ve become more disenchanted with basketball replays than other sports. Football is almost as bad and baseball is too, but it seems to be the closest to doing it the right way.

I have a lot of friends who are officials and I can’t speak for them, but I’ll bet if you asked them their opinion, they’d say they want to get the call right, but not to the extent of holding the game up on numerous occasions so that they can look at a monitor and accept someone else’s opinion.

Professional and major college basketball is the worst when it comes to replays, but it’s trickled down the NAIA level, too.

A couple of games in the recently completed NAIA Division II National Women’s Basketball Championship -- which I’ve covered since it came to Sioux City in 1998 – came down to a replay decision. As it turned out, after further review, and I mean further review, they got the calls right. There had to have been four or five replay reviews in the final five minutes of the game, however.

I saw the looks of the faces of coaches and players on both teams and thought to myself. What if the decision had gone the other direction? Could the team that wound up winning have been able to handle losing without causing a major stir?

My point is, too much emphasis in this day and age is on winning. So much so that we have to endure endless replays that in my opinion take away from what’s taking place on the court.

The NCAA Tournament championship game between Virginia and Texas Tech actually came down to replay officials deciding whether or not the ball had grazed the fingertip of a certain player before it went out of bounds. That took what seemed like a half hour to figure out. They did figure it out, but was all of that necessary?

What I’m saying is the initial calls should stand, just like they did back in the “good old days.” Yes, I know that’s never going to happen because too many people are getting paid ridiculous wages for being replay officials and in the opinion of most, it’s all about winning. At any cost.

Once when I was playing high school basketball, a teammate was at the free throw line in the closing seconds and made a shot to put us ahead by a point. However, the official ( I still remember his name but won’t mention it in print) blew his whistle and waved off the free throw because I allegedly had my foot on one of the squares while lined up in the lane.

We wound up losing by a point and of course I thought it was my fault and was crushed for a couple of weeks. Who knows whether or not my foot was touching the square or not, but that’s the way it turned out and I eventually got over it and enjoyed many more years of playing basketball after that.

Even without replay reviews.

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