NCAA Finals: Ethical Photoshop

The FinalsWe want perfection in our society, but we don’t always want to know how the perfection was gained. For example, we may believe that certain actors or singers we admire are perfect. Some of us get offended when we see “unauthorized” close-ups or see Photoshop fails; as if our illusions are shattered when we learn that life is not perfect. We blame the technology. We blame those that access the technology.

I have known actors and singers in my lifetime. They are people; they are not perfect; they are often trapped in their own images. The most beautiful actors or singers you can think of get sick; develop skin stuff; will get gray hair; put on weight, and on and on.

I was thinking about all of this quest for perfection after reading an Associated Press piece by Michael Marot (April 9, 2015) on the state of the officiating at the NCAA Final Four finals. The article, entitled: “NCAA Tourney head says refs should have been more patient,” reminds me of the outrage of 16 year old who has discovered her favorite singer has zits.

Dan Gavitt, the guy who is the NCAA’s vice president of men’s basketball had a problem with the officiating in the finals where Duke beat Wisconsin 68-63. He stated that he would have wanted the referees to be more patient with their calls at the replay monitors where there was a question of which team touched the ball before it went out of bounds.

”All I’m saying is that I think there’s a chance that if there had been a longer review, especially on the blown up one, the magnified version, there’s a chance there would have been enough evidence to overturn the call,” Gavitt said Wednesday. ”But it’s still a judgment call.”

That is correct, Mr. Gavitt, it was a judgment call. The article continued:

“Gavitt said he spoke with Badgers coach Bo Ryan immediately after the game and again Wednesday to give him a heads-up about what he planned to say publicly about the call. Gavitt did not characterize the conversation as an apology, and said Ryan was more upset about how the game was called – rather than the one call that has been talked about all week.”

Camera crazy

In my opinion, this is another case where we get mad at technology when it exposes something we don’t like, rather than understanding that life is not perfect.

There were three officials on the floor and a standby official. The technology allowed the officials to have 18 different angles. The officials looked at a mere 8 or 9 of them and then they made their decision. The article states:

“Just hours before Monday’s game, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany suggested it may be time to consider taking away replay decisions from the officials on the court. The NFL, NBA and NHL both central command centers to make decisions and in college football, a booth official can overturn calls on the field.”

Oh, that’s just the decision Jim. Let’s slow down the game even more. Jim, have you seen an NFL game lately? We are developing a game where on nearly every play we are seeing yellow laundry thrown out on the field. Let’s have a booth and another command center to tell us that the officials are fools.

At the end of the article, it was conceded that the officials were just human and that there is a human factor involved; that we can’t always be perfect, but we can try to reach perfection. I would submit that is what officials in every professional and collegiate sport try to do that every day.

Not the central issue here

The ethical part of this problem is the question of “Why now?” The Badgers lost. I’m sorry they lost. They played hard – so did Duke. Bo Ryan is upset. OK, I get that; it would upset me too. Why fan flames that are still burning? Why not try to do better next time; why not make changes over the year you have until the next final?

Why throw the officials under the bus? If you want 86 more camera angles, then advocate for that. If you want the officials replaced by robots and drones, OK you can advocate for that too. By sort of, kind of apologizing for the officiating, you are also throwing Duke and Mike Krzyzewski under the same bus as well.

My bracket got busted up pretty good and pretty fast. I had no dog in this fight other than I love college basketball. It was a good game. Were the officials perfect? No. Life is like that. NCAA, change the technology if you feel you must but stop apologizing for humans being human.

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