I am a pretty passionate sports fan and will admit, I’ve got a long way to go before my athletic passions can be considered sanctified, so this may fall squarely in the category of hypocrisy, but I am growing increasingly weary of the tendency of sports fans to blame the refs for every loss.
I am certainly not above complaining about bad calls. The best player in baseball (comments about Shohei Otani will be summarily deleted) is Aaron Judge, and for some reason, umpires call strikes on him repeatedly that are balls. This is not an opinion. The pitch tracking computers have demonstrated that Judge has had more pitches wrongly called strikes against him than any other player in baseball. Why?
Clearly, the umpires were paid off, right? The game is rigged, isn’t it?
I am also a Chiefs fan. I became one a few years ago. I don’t consider myself a bandwagon fan. I have a good reason for loving KC, a noble reason – the noblest. For the last 20 years or so, my primary passion in football was finding someone to rid the world of the scourge, the evil, the pestilence that was Brady, Belichick, and the Cheating Patriots. I started out as a fan of my hometown boy, Kurt Warner, then I went to Peyton, first at Indy then at Denver. Peyton retired and I was searching for someone else who could fight the plague in the Northeast, and this young QB was drafted by the team closest to me, KC. It’s a match made in heaven.
This year, Mahomes, Kelce, and the rest have been joined by Jonathan Howe’s favorite songbird and we are headed to Las Vegas!
In the last couple of years, the “the game is rigged” trope has become ever-present. The NFL wants to make sure the Chiefs are in the Superbowl, so they instruct the refs to make sure their calls go the KC way. I’ve watched most of their games and frankly, I think a lot of bad calls have gone against them. The haters could never be convinced of that.
America has become a country of conspiracy theorists, a place of suspicions and accusations. The election was stolen. They are against us and out to get us. It’s kind of built into our zeitgeist today. It’s only natural that we would bring that conspiracy theoryism over into the sports world. In the moral and spiritual cesspool that is X/Twitter today, “the game was rigged” is one of the least harmful, least pernicious tropes.
I don’t think we who love Jesus should engage in it!
It’s only normal for the lost world to go down that rabbit hole, but we are held to a higher standard. Think about it. What are you saying when you trumpet, “The game is rigged?” You are publicly accusing men (and a few women) of being dishonest, even criminal. You are saying that they took money to lie, cheat, and steal, to commit a felony by fixing the outcome of a game, to scam the nation.
If you have evidence of such a conspiracy, go to the police. If you are just sore that your team lost, it might be more honoring to Christ to NOT publicly say that these referees have engaged in criminal activity and that they are dishonest.
If you are a baseball fan, is it wrong to say that Angel Hernandez is a bad umpire? I don’t think so. It means you have decent eyesight and an understanding of the game. If you say he is trying to fix the outcome of a game, you are making accusations against his character, not his ability. It’s different. Are NFL refs making a lo of bad calls? It would be hard to deny that. Are they going into the game determined to help one team win over the other? C’mon man! That’s ridiculous. That kind of conspiracy would get exposed and people would go to jail. It’s tinfoil hat thinking.
Again, if you follow me on Facebook, where I often rant and rave about sports, you can probably find PLENTY of critiques of my communication and behavior. The biggest is probably one I referenced earlier – my tendency to cheer out of disdain (the New England Communists, the Alabama Crimson Crud, the whole SEC, the Boston Red Sox, etc). I just saw so much of this over the weekend that I decided to say something.
As the redeemed of Christ, we should rise above making accusations of criminal behavior against the referees.