Superbowl production attracts armchair experts
Posted by Dean Holden at February 9th, 2013
by Jack Blatherwick, 7 February 2013
It was a one-hour game. Honest. They played for only 60 minutes in Super Bowl XLVII, but of course the show took all day. This allows plenty of time for experts to tell us what we’re watching, which coaching decisions were good, which were not, which players made a great play (because it’s assumed we need to be told) and which players screwed up.
Of course, every call by a referee is analyzed from six camera angles on instant replay, giving us a new tradition in sport: Players and coaches can make human errors, but referees can not. It’s an interesting deal, really, when you consider that players and coaches are paid a hundred times more than refs.
There are experts who really know the game, and experts who know only what they read, and I’m betting there are experts who can’t even read. And that’s just those we pay for their expertise. Then there are the experts at home, who never played, never coached and never officiated a game in any sport; but they studied at length to pick their fantasy team, thus validating their status as an expert.
So it’s no wonder that arenas and ball parks are filled with experts at youth sports, second-guessing the coaches, players and referees. It’s an American right, guaranteed by the 28th Amendment, and earned the hard way – learning from experts on TV.
I skipped part of the Sunday Super Show and watched the Capitals lose another one to Pittsburgh. The Caps are struggling big-time to get out of the cellar, and the experts explained at length that one Caps player needs to do more if his team is to win. But when he tried to do more it was, “No. No. He has to dump it deep on a 1-on-3, not take chances on a turnover.”
For a brief second I actually questioned the expertise; after all, turning it over trying to make something happen on a 1-on-3 meant there would be four Caps players in position to defend – not a bad time to gamble?
Later I watched a PeeWee hockey game, and after a turnover by a 12-year-old, there was that familiar critique, heard above all other expert bits of wisdom, “No. No. He has to dump it deep. We can’t afford turnovers.”
In this game, like all youth games, the referees were the major targets of expert criticism. After all, it’s not possible that someone’s son was knocked down by a legal check. Just like the Super Bowl, every call by a referee must pass the test of perfection. It’s not good enough that refs are trying as hard as they can; they are expected to make each call exactly the way every expert in the arena sees it.
It’s one thing for professional TV productions to engage the arm-chair experts. That’s big business. It’s quite another for adults to intrude into a game meant solely for the enjoyment and development of children.
Two good Minnesota high school coaches decided to quit last year, because parents were ruining the experience. This is an epidemic in sports around the country, and one veteran basketball coach and science teacher said, “We are in an era of ESPN experts at high school and youth games. Parents learn from television all about second-guessing the players, coaches, and referees. I quit after 27 years, because it wasn’t fun anymore.”