Fox Sports’s Kevin Hench must have missed the code-of-silence memo — you know, the one that says sportswriters aren’t supposed to call it like they see it when a game is decided by poor officiating — because he is blunt, brutal, and absolutely, 100% correct in pointing out that both Boston College and Washington “were left with the sour taste of losing because of bad officiating” on Thursday. Thank God someone outside of the state of Washington and fan message boards has the courage to say it!
(My previous posts on this topic are here, here, here, here and here. And I feel the need to point out, again, that I’m neither a BC nor a Washington fan. Indeed, I was rooting for UConn in the Huskies-Huskies game — until I realized what an injustice it would be if they won, at which point I started rooting in vain for UW.)
And don’t give me any bullcrap about how the officials are “human” and therefore shouldn’t be criticized. The players are human too, but we have no problem criticizing them when they screw up! Well, guess what, those imperfect human referees screwed up on Thursday, BIG TIME. If the referees had called those games fairly and correctly — and no, I’m not demanding perfection, just basic competence — Boston College would very likely be in the Elite Eight, and Washington almost certainly would. The refs deserve to be called out on that. They must be called out on that. They made themselves the story. Who are we to pretend otherwise?
But most sports journalists won’t call them out, because they want to pretend the game was decided on the floor, by the players. It makes a better story that way; nobody feels good when a game is decided by the refs. But when you’re a reporter, you’re supposed to report what actually happened, not some sanitized version of what happened, in which an objectively incorrect call (or non-call) becomes merely “controversial,” its implications for the game as a whole aren’t discussed, and a pattern of blatantly poor officiating doesn’t get mentioned at all. So, kudos to Hench for saying what everyone else should be saying: BC and UW got robbed.
I wish I could agree with Gregg Doyel that UConn-Washington was one of the best college basketball games in years. But a game simply cannot be a “good game,” in my book, when the refs decide it. Yeah, the players played well enough to earn a spot on ESPN Classic. But the refs ruined it. Absolutely ruined it.
P.S. Oh yeah, and another line of bull I don’t want to hear: how Washington “could have won the game anyway,” by making a play here or there. Of course they could have. That’s always true (unless the bad call comes literally at the buzzer). But that’s not the point. If the officiating hadn’t been so awful, they wouldn’t have needed to make those plays. Which is to say, they shouldn’t have needed to make those plays. They should have won comfortably, in regulation, without five of their players, three of their cheerleaders and a ball boy fouling out. As I wrote in comments yesterday:
The fact that Washington also made mistakes which led to the loss does NOT mean blaming the refs is necessarily wrong. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just bad logic. For example, imagine youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re driving down the road, going 10 mph over the speed limit, when suddenly another car veers into your lane for no reason and with no warning because the driver is drunk. Because you were speeding, you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have enough time to react, so you get into an accident. Now, the accident wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have happened if you hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been speeding 10 mph over the limit. But it ALSO wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have happened if the other driver hadnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been drunk and veered into your lane. Just because YOU made a mistake doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be angry at HIM for making an even bigger mistake! Same thing here. The fact that UW fans are angry at the refs doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean they arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t acknowledging that WashingtonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s players missed opportunities where they could have won the game. But, just like with the drunk driver, the refs put Washington in a position they never should have been in, namely needing to win a close game (or having to stop on a dime, in the driving analogy).
If anyone has a legitimate argument against the “Washington was robbed” theory, I’m game. But if it involves either of the two faux-counterarguments above, it will not be taken seriously.