Phineas Taylor Barnum (July 5, 1810–April 7, 1891) was an American showman, businessman, and entertainer. P.T. Barnum was probably pound for pound the greatest promoter that ever lived.
The genuine magic was not the “slight of hand” presented by his various “magi.” The “slight of mind” was the anticipation that the audience experienced caused by the mental trickery that Barnum used on the “fans” prior to any Barnum event. Some people attribute the phrase; “there’s a sucker born every minute” to P.T. Barnum, well at least Broadway does. It was never proven that Mr. Barnum ever uttered that saying. But ya know what folks? It seems as if the world of sports ownership is draining as much as they can from that expression and from the gullible fans that support all of the “games.”
When fans cause the turnstiles to click at NFL stadiums they are under the false illusion that they are the “backbone” of support for their team.
Let’s talk about the officiating in professional football, baseball and basketball.
Let’s begin with the NFL. In January of 2006, the Pittsburgh Steelers narrowly defeated the Indianapolis Colts at Indy in a playoff game on their way to Super Bowl XL. Late in the game a sure interception by Steelers defensive back Troy Polomalu was overturned and ex-Steelers linebacker Joey Porter had this to say to the New York Times about the officiating. “When they did that, they really want Peyton Manning and these guys to win the Super Bowl. They are just going to straight take it for them. I felt they were like ‘we don’t care if you know we’re cheating. We’re cheating for them.’”
He went on to say that, “The whole world loves Peyton Manning, but come on man, don’t take the game away from us. I felt they were cheating us. When the interception happened, everybody in the world knew that was an interception.”
There are bad calls and suspect calls in every sport. At least the NFL is making a feeble attempt to pretend that there is credibility in its officiating methods.
What about basketball? Ex-NBA official Tim Donaghy was involved in one of the biggest sports scandals in history. He was charged and proven guilty of fixing games to make good on his bets. Well, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison. That was not even a slap on the wrist. Was this penalty over the top? No, he and anyone bearing his surname should never be permitted to officiate in any league. In this case, the NBA was the suckers. Where were all of the red flags? There should be a federal law that prohibits any official from the midget league on up from any type of gambling.
How many games have been altered over the years by biased and slanted calls? There are no major penalties that umpires and officials have to pay for wrong and outright fraudulent calls. Only the fans pay with broken hearts and even more broken wallets. Every time that a ref blows a call why don’t they refund the fans 50 percent of their ticket price? That noble gesture would put an enormous amount of pressure on the “zebras.” If they don’t get it right, then they have to pay the piper.
There have been many baseball, football and basketball games that we know were fraudulent. Even if the outcome ends up questionable, don’t allow the intent to be so.
How many shady strikes were called on Jackie Robinson, Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays? How many times were they called out while attempting to steal a base when the entire universe knew that they were safe? Can you count the times that they threw a runner out at the plate and the plate umpire ruled that player safe?
Prior to instant replay being instituted in the NFL how many wide receivers have been ruled out of bounds because the officials just did not like the way that they looked? Oh, I could go on and on but I do not have enough space.
I am embarrassed, not for me but I feel sad for you America. It is you that has the audacity to think that there is fairness on the field in the policing of American sports. How naive can you be with billions at stake within the leagues performing systems and “zillions” floating around in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Monaco and any other gambling parlor that you can drop a dollar down on any game of chance. Yes, major sports have now evolved into, “games of chance?” Remember the phrase, any given Sunday? Well that saying is full of it as well because in the end it is very often that the play on the gridiron, baseball diamond and the basketball court is secondary to the decisions made in the boardroom. Heed my warning to you America! There may be a sucker born every minute. Just don’t let that sucker be you.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)