By Ken Reed
I don’t know why some people aren’t sports fans, but I certainly am glad I am. Yesterday’s NFL games reinforced that feeling even more.
What great drama and entertainment the NFL gave us with the AFC and NFC championship games. Elite athleticism and clutch performances were on exhibit by players from each of the four teams.
Sadly, the primary topic of conversation in offices, at lunch counters, and in fitness clubs today isn’t about two extremely exciting and entertaining football games. It’s about an official’s error in the NFC title game and a stupid overtime rule in the AFC title game.
Let’s start with the NFC championship game. The Saints very likely would be making Super Bowl travel plans today if it weren’t for a faulty video review system. With 1:49 to play, the Saints were driving near the Rams goal line, when Drew Brees threw a pass towards wide receiver Tommylee Lewis. Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman plowed into Lewis way before the ball arrived. Basically, every one in the stadium saw it as pass interference except the officials on the field. With the penalty, the Saints could’ve killed most of the clock before kicking the go-ahead field goal or scoring a go-ahead touchdown. Instead they had to kick the go-ahead field goal with a 1:41 remaining, allowing the Rams enough time to march down the field and tie the game via a field goal, sending the game to overtime.
The NFL’s officiating video review system needs to be fixed. The league should have a referee in a booth upstairs with the power to call blatant missed penalties like the pass interference play at the end of the Saints-Rams game. And put a time limit on it. The missed pass interference play in the Saints-Rams game would’ve taken no longer than 30 seconds to review and get right.
The bottom line here is, if you’re going to allow the use of video review during games you HAVE to find a way for that pass interference non-call in the Saints-Rams game to be reviewed.
Regarding the AFC championship game, featuring the Chiefs and Pats, all I can ask is, have you ever heard of such moronic overtime rules in your life?
What sense does it make to say to the team that loses the coin toss, “Hey, if the other team scores a field goal on its first possession, we’ll give you guys a chance to score. But if the other team scores a touchdown we won’t give you a chance.”
The current NFL overtime rules make the coin flip to start the overtime a major factor in determining the game’s outcome. And that should never be the case.
It certainly isn’t a fair system. In a game of big plays, the biggest might have been the Pats winning the coin flip to start the overtime period.
But it’s a simple solution: Each team should get a chance to have the ball so a coin flip doesn’t impact the outcome.
I much prefer the college game’s overtime rules to the NFL’s. But I would modify the college rules some. I think each team should get the ball at the 50-yard line. That would give each team a fair shot to win the game, but make it a little harder to score than in the college game, where each team starts at the defense’s 25-yard-line.
Both the Rams and Patriots played some great football on Sunday but one team is in the Super Bowl largely due to a blown call and the other team is in the Super Bowl largely because they won a coin flip.
Both of those things are wrong. And they are issues that need to be addressed by the NFL asap.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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