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Refball-The NFL’s Latest Controversy

Petty Fans or a Real Problem?

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Refball-The NFL’s Latest Controversy

What is Refball?

Refball is a term coined by fans and amateur analysts of sports games where a referee’s controversial and often wrong call, can change the outcome of a game. Some of the time bias is called into question as fans search for some obscure fact that could connect a referee to the team that won a controversial call. It’s a lot easier to blame the officiating than accept defeat, but Refball refers to calls that are either very controversial or just wrong.

Why is it so important?

A call can make the difference between a stop for the defense or a touchdown for the offense. It can also discourage dangerous play and keep players safe. However, these calls can be controversial as it is up to the referee’s interpretation of the rules. This has most recently caught some media attention with an obvious pass interference call that could have allowed the New Orleans Saints to score and go to the Super Bowl. There was direct helmet to helmet contact that prevented the offensive player from getting the opportunity to catch the ball. The referees did not call the pass interference and the Rams won and were able to move onto the Super Bowl. Even after the game, defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman who committed the foul admitted that he was in the wrong. Saints season ticket holders are now attempting to sue the NFL for depriving “enjoyment” by blowing a call that could have allowed the Saints to win. Another call that is commonly becoming referred to as ‘refball’ is roughing the passer. With the NFL trying to do everything it can to protect Quarterbacks, especially after Alex Smith’s horrific injury, roughing the passer calls have become more and more common, giving the offense extra yards rather than losing yards due to a sack. This was especially frustrating this season for Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who was denied numerous sacks this season due to roughing the passer calls. Roughing the passer also came up in a key play of this year’s playoffs when a Chief’s linebacker barely touches Patriot’s Quarterback Tom Brady on the shoulder as he attempts to get close to him and make a tackle, resulting in a roughing the passer call. Numerous similar plays happened throughout the season this year, much to the frustration of fans.

I recently got certified as a soccer referee and so I learned a lot about the process of becoming a referee and having the responsibility of making controversial calls. In soccer, offside calls are most commonly hotly contested, with there often being only inches between a fair and a foul play on the ball. Mistakes are expected as a part of human error, but with all the cameras and technology surrounding the NFL, it is expected that there would be fewer errors. This is a problem I hope to see addressed by the NFL before Sunday’s Super Bowl.

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