Posted by Adam Butler on June 25, 2012
Special to BlogHawgs
By Tony Woodside
In the aftermath of the Arkansas Razorbacks controversial elimination from the 2012 College World Series last weekend, I have repeatedly heard people comment, “The officials aren’t supposed to determine the outcomes of games.”
My response is, “Yes, they are.”
Do I LIKE that they are? No. Not at all. But the reality is that officials, referees, umpires, etc. are put in place to do a “job”; they are told to do certain things; and like it or not officials are part of the game now, not just the players.
I know that it’s upsetting to be a fan and lose like Arkansas did Friday. But that’s the world we live in.
I’ve watched sports very closely for more than 30 years; I remember the days of having to stay up until after the 10:00 news to watch the NBA Playoffs because they were shown on tape delay; that’s how long I’ve watched the NBA.
I’ve played sports, covered them as a sportswriter and worked in the University of Arkansas Athletic Department. From my observations, at some point (I do not know when), “sports” became more about “entertainment/business” than “competition.”
NBA Commissioner David Stern has on many occasions been asked about the NBA being rigged. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him deny it; he either gets upset and doesn’t answer the question, or he goes in the opposite direction and laughs it off, essentially saying conspiracies make for good conversation.
The aptly named Stern runs his business–the NBA– with a stern hand, making it clear to even the game’s elite players that he is in charge.
According to Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski, at the 2011 All-Star Game, Stern had a meeting with the All-Stars and told them he knows “where the bodies are buried” because he is the one who has buried them.
“It was shocking,” 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose said. “I was taking off my gear, and when he said that, I just stopped and thought, ‘Whoa …’ I couldn’t believe that he said it.”
Others agree with Stern. In July 2011 on TrueHoop Blog, Matt Moore (CBS Sports) wrote: “The NBA has a right to run its business towards profit and to act in its own self-interest.”
On the same blog, Zach Harper wrote: “Ultimately, the league (NBA) can do whatever they want because it’s their business, not ours.” Harper continued: people choose “which teams to root for and how personally we take the product they put out there…It’s about running a business the best way they see fit for their own gain.”
I think that pretty much sums it up. Sports is an entertainment business now, not solely about competition, and the people who run these businesses feel that they have the right to determine what routes their companies take.
ESPN, of course, stands for ENTERTAINMENT and Sports Programming Network.
I’m not saying that things are rigged or choreographed to the point of pro wrestling…yet… and several years ago, I wouldn’t have believed what I’ve just written. But I’ve seen way too many thing to come to any other conclusion than sports is now more about entertainment and compelling storylines than competition.
And, as the Hogs found out Friday, sometimes that leads to results straight out of the
K Zone Twilight Zone.