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Affecting The Outcome

7 April 2017 Views From The Booth Sports

Greetings from the Booth!

All is right with the world again, as the “boys are back in town” and the 2017 Major League season has begun. If you’re a Nats fan, there are some new names & faces you’ll have to learn, but the core of the team is back and looks ready to contend again in 2017.

Also, for the first time in the history of the franchises, the Caps and Wizards have won division titles in the same season. It has been a truly remarkable year for the ‘Zards, who are closing in on a 50-win season. The hire of Scotty Brooks as head coach has turned out to be a great move.

The Capitals have won the President’s Trophy for the second consecutive year, which has elicited the sound of crickets from a hardened fan base. For the Caps, it’s all about post-season success (or lack thereof), and nothing less than a parade down Constitution Avenue will do.

And, this week, the “tradition like no other” is underway at the hallowed Augusta National golf course, as golf’s first major of the year, The Masters, takes place.  The big news is that the world’s number one player, Dustin Johnson, has withdrawn due to a freak back injury suffered on Wednesday night. Johnson was the clear favorite to win the fabled green jacket on Sunday, but after some practice swings, made the decision that he could not compete. The tournament is now wide open, and Sunday’s back nine should be exciting.

We’ll stay in the world of golf for today’s topic. Last weekend on the LPGA tour, Lexi Thompson was assessed a 2-stroke penalty (which ultimately became a 4-stroke penalty) for a rules infraction. Not big news, except for the fact that the infraction happened on her Saturday round, and she was not told until the middle of her Sunday round about the infraction & penalty. At the time, Thompson thought she was leading the tournament. Ultimately, the penalty strokes cost her the victory.

This mess all came about because a fan watching the tournament on TV, noticed the infraction, then called tournament officials, who reviewed the video, and assessed the penalty retroactively.

ESPN’s Mike Tirico, who among other things, covers golf for the network, opined that there should be a statute of limitations on things like this. It’s ludicrous to assess a penalty the next day!  For one thing, it affects a player’s strategy. You’re definitely going to approach your Sunday round differently if you think you’re leading the tournament, as opposed to trailing, for example.  Officials should have only until the end of a round to enforce a penalty. After that, all bets are off.

Finally, it’s a slippery slope when fans are given the power to determine the outcome of a sporting event. Yes, officials should get the calls right, but when fans get involved in the process by scrutinizing every play, every shot, every pitch, then calling the network or league office, a line is crossed.

Golf is a game of honor where players are expected to police themselves, and at the professional level, this system has worked.  Did Lexi Thompson commit a rules infraction? Yes, albeit a minor one (so many of the rules of golf are archaic and make little sense, but that is a topic for another day), and probably didn’t warrant a 4-shot penalty.

Golf’s governing bodies need to put a system in place immediately that both curb the policing of the game by fans, and put a statute of limitations on the enforcement of penalties after the fact.

Enjoy the Masters, and until next time, GO NATS, CAPS, WIZARDS, AND HORNETS!








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