Anyone watch the Super Bowl? I did, mostly. Two hundred years from now, George Will will be remembered for one thing, and one thing only — this bon mot: “Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings.” He is right, of course, but he left out the worst part — The Rules.
Football is minutely governed by a seemingly infinite number of arcane, highly-nuanced rules (illegal batting?), many of which are incapable of consistent enforcement (if, as we are assured by the cognoscenti, offensive holding could be called on every play, but is not, then why call it at all?). Worst of all is the insistence on “getting it right,” which gave us video review, which involves grown men looking at a tape of a wide receiver falling to the ground frame by frame, over and over again as if it were the Zapruder film, in order to determine whether the ball shifted ever so slightly in his grasp before his knee kissed terra firma. Who the Hell cares? One thing we learn as lawyers is that most of the time, close enough is good enough. We stop striving for ideal justice, and try to get reasonably close to fairness in the short amount of time that we have on this Earth. We know that baseball has it right — yes, there are bad calls, but over time they even out, and if they have a disproportionate impact in the short run, well, that’s still a smaller price to pay than would be spent in a futile attempt to eliminate all error. Also, we suspect that a better world would have fewer rules, not more, and since sports are supposed to be a better world, we resent having our time on the couch interrupted by an achingly pious explanation of the application of the Tuck Rule. We get enough of that crap at work.
So, you can imagine how I felt when the Prince of Football Darkness threw that #%*%@ red flag after his team punted on 4th and 2, and then got the ball back on a 5 yard penalty when the video showed a 12th Giant player sprinting off the field, but about 2 feet from the sideline when the ball was snapped. If there was ever a case for the application of the “no harm, no foul” principle, this was it. But no — In the NFL, The Rules must be enforced, no matter how unjust their application, no matter how harsh the consequences. Some people actually like this. We call them fascists.
This is a long introduction to this link.