Fans are Stupid, Myself Included

Sometimes I do stupid things like click on Yahoo links. I did that a second ago and followed it to a Boing Boing article about Demi Moore and her supposed photoshopping. The link interested me because I have done touch up work before, and because the story was presented as, wait on it, the WORST Photoshop Ever. It's not. As one Boing Boing commenter pointed out, it might not even be a mistake. Her sarong bulges from her upper hip, but that could be Moore's pose. She clearly has a hip cocked.

My point: It sure looks like Darnell Dockett did something malicious and unsportsmanlike to Matt Hasselbeck, but it sure as hell is hard to know. Sometimes it's best to channel that gut outrage into inquiry.

I watch a lot of football. NFL officials are wont to error. Big surprise, huh? On the big scorecard, NFL officials are miles ahead of the casual fan in assessing penalties. I rarely, rarely find a truly bogus call.

The NFL and its officials are bound to the bottom line, and the bottom line loves fairness. Fairness creates parity and parity made the NFL. Fairness keeps games competitive and fans excited about the outcome. The NFL is the most successful sports league in the United States. It is wildly popular and profitable. The gains it would receive by fixing a game, a season, a Super Bowl, are tiny compared to the risk entailed.

Most times, a mistake is a mistake. The officials are not biased or corrupted. Maybe Dockett did something dirty and no one saw it at the time. Maybe it wasn't dirty. Fans of all stripes have become habitual victims, sure their team is screwed over on travel schedules, penalties and primetime games. I embrace skepticism but not cynicism. Next time something looks questionable, off or wrong, try giving the officials the benefit of the doubt. The impartial professional, standing feet from the play, that is as expert in his field as the players at football, might just be right, and we, the partial fanatics, sitting at home and maybe a little buzzed, might just be wrong.

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