“Poor Rules Knowledge Is Common Practice With Fans”
by:  Michael L.


BTFS (1/26/02):  When watching sports on TV or in person, especially pro football, you can always hear the common sound of a “BOO” coming from the crowd that’s showing unapproval of a officials decision.  And you can also hear cheering which shows approval of an official’s decision.  But, do fans actually know what they are booing or cheering about?

 The answer in most cases is no to the rules aspect of the situation.  Most of the time they are only cheering or booing since the call is going for or against their favorite team.  A typical fan of a sports contest only knows about 1% of the knowledge of what a sports officials knows.  That’s a very interesting statistic, since most fans are usually the “know-it-alls” when it comes to the rules of the game.

 The basic reason for the poor knowledge is fans don’t study the rules like sports officials do.  Officials are constantly studying the rules during the season and off-season, taking rules exams and watching video.  Most of the time, just like the coaches at the lower levels that are below High School, fans will take some of the rules from NFHS, NCAA and NFL, put them all together to create their own rule book. 

 A perfect example of poor rules knowledge amongst the fans of pro football is the play that occurred in New England during the Divisional round of the playoffs.  The New England quarterback attempted a forward pass and apparently was attempting to “tuck” the ball back into his chest but lost possession and initially the ball was ruled a fumble by Referee Walt Coleman #65, which was recovered by Oakland. 

 Since it was inside of two minutes of the fourth quarter, the Instant Replay booth ordered a review of the play in question.  The NFL rule precisely states that if the quarterback does not complete the “tuck” of the ball back into his chest after making the initial forward pass motion and loses possession of the ball and the ball hits the ground it is ruled an incomplete pass.  Coleman overturned the initial ruling on the field of a fumble and ruled it an incomplete pass, which was the correct ruling to make. 

 New England drove downfield and kicked a field goal to tie the game and thereafter game went into overtime.  New England won the coin toss and worked their way down field and kicked another field goal for the overtime win sending them to the AFC Championship game. If fans would have knowledge with the rules, there would not be any controversy with this ruling.

 Fans of all sports should go out and buy a rulebook to study.  It would bring them closer to the game and give them a better perspective and understanding of what’s going on out there on the field. Rulebooks usually can be purchased at any bookstore and are inexpensive.  Learning the rules of the game will make the game more enjoyable to watch for all fans and you would have more respect for the officials when that sudden uncommon call or ruling comes along!

Article by:
Michael L.
Chief Webmaster
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