Watching college football on a large screen, high-definition TV enhances the experience. And, at least in some cases, it gives a better perspective than being in the broadcast booth or even on the field.
Such was the case with one game I watched on Saturday.
“He comes up short of the first down,” the announcer said while the millions of us watching it on TV saw the running back cross the imaginary yellow line by a good yard and a half.
“No. They are saying he made it,” the announcer corrects himself when the chains are moved. But we knew it was a first down at the moment it happened and ESPN was not even paying us to provide factual information.
“The ball is out at the two-yard line,” he reported after a punt. No, we all saw it roll out precisely at the one-yard line.
For awhile I kept count of the announcers’ mistakes but decided it was distracting me from enjoying the game.
Likewise, officials are under greater scrutiny now that we have the ability to watch sweat drip off the noses of wide receivers as well as see whether or not they complete a catch or keep their feet in bounds. And the use of video to review a play often causes officials to confess their sins publicly.
Last night at the Macon Touchdown Club (where my friend Bob White treated me as his guest), Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson was asked if he felt full-time officials were needed to improve the quality of their performance.
“I’m not allowed to say anything about officiating since the North Carolina game,” said Johnson without a smile. But it brought laughter from those of us who had seen him (from the seats of Bobby Dodd Stadium or on TV) go ballistic after officials failed to stop the game clock near the end of the first half when a Tech receiver went out of bounds, costing his team a scoring opportunity.
With distance and a couple of more big wins under his belt since that game, Johnson admitted that he was steamed at the time but understands that officials are trying to get every call right and have no intentions of showing preference for either team.
“But they are humans just like all of us,” he said. “They make mistakes.”
So do announcers. So do we. One common human characteristic is our tendency to magnify the mistakes of others while minimizing or denying our own.
And who would want a big screen, hi-def, highly-critical viewing of our lives without a good dose of grace thrown in?