What I’ve Learned as a Fan That I Wish I Knew as a Player

In my youth, I played quite a bit of baseball. Well, actually, I played a number of sports, but baseball was the one I was involved with the most. Baseball is one of those sports where there is some level of subjectivity. For example, when the umpire calls a pitch a strike when you think it’s a ball. Or, when you’re sliding into second and you think you touch the base before the fielder tags you with his glove. Of course, with instant replay now instituted in professional baseball, some of these calls are more likely to be ‘right.’

Switching gears for a moment: this past weekend, the Brooklyn Nets beat the Toronto Raptors — by one point — to advance to the second round of the NBA playoffs. The Raptors trailed for most of the game and by double-digits deep into the 4th quarter. However, they made it really close at the end and, in fact, had a chance to win the game with less than seven seconds in the 4th quarter. The reason I’m bringing up this game and this series is because there were quite a few controversial calls by the officials. And that article only mentions the calls made in the last game.

When I was younger (and playing competitively), I would have stewed for hours after the game because of what I perceived as a “bad call.” I would have blamed the umpires for the part they played in my team “losing” the game. Even as a fan when I was younger, I would blame the officials of whatever sport I was watching for the poor calls that negatively affected the team I was cheering for.

After watching the series between the Nets and the Raptors, there were certainly times when I disagreed with the way the referees saw a play (and on many occasions, so did the announcers). Even still, as any good athlete will tell you, they’ve got to play well enough that a call by an official doesn’t mean a win or a loss. That doesn’t mean that a call from an official won’t disappoint you, but you’ve got to put it out of your mind and move onto the next play. I’m not implying that some of the poor calls affected the Raptors (or the Nets), but I’d be surprised if they didn’t even just a little.

With that being said, as a “fan,” it’s so much more enjoyable to watch a game and not stew about a bad call long after it’s over.

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