Formula 1: Terrible outcome-influencing calls becoming a trend in every sport

The ridiculous penalty that cost Sebastian Vettel what would have been his first victory of the 2019 Formula 1 season is just one example of terrible outcome-influencing calls becoming a trend in not only the Formula 1 world and not only the racing world but the sports world in general.

What should have been the maiden victory of Scuderia Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the 2019 Formula 1 season in the Canadian Grand Prix turned out to be effectively an unearned victory by Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport’s Lewis Hamilton, giving him five victories in the season’s first seven races.

Vettel led the race ahead of Hamilton in second place and had been successfully defending the lead for quite some time when he went off track between turns three and four on the 14-turn, 2.71-mile (4.361-kilometer) Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course on Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on lap 48.

He rejoined the track still leading over Hamilton, but the race stewards claimed that he rejoined the track in an “unsafe” matter since Hamilton had to brake to avoid causing a collision.

While Vettel had nowhere to go other than in front of Hamilton just to keep his car out of the wall, the stewards issued him a five-second time penalty that ultimately demoted him to a second place finish. While he crossed the finish line 1.342 seconds ahead of Hamilton, Hamilton officially won the race by 3.658 seconds.

As bad of a look as this is for the FIA, Formula 1 and motorsports as a whole, this is just one example of terrible calls taking over the entire world of sports.

Sometimes it is unfair to hold officials accountable for the wins or losses of teams in games where bad calls decide the outcome. After all, there are typically several bad calls and no-calls affecting both teams throughout games, and why should officials be expected to get 100% of calls right when, for example, 45% is considered a good field goal percentage for NBA players?

Why should officials be blamed for a team’s loss when they made one bad call on a night where the team’s best shooter shot 30%?

Of course, there is a difference in the jobs of officials and players, but there must be some leeway, especially since, even in the age of advanced instant replay, replay is (for some reason) only allowed in select circumstances. And after all, officials themselves are, in fact, still human beings, and human beings still make mistakes regardless of their titles or occupations.

But unfortunately that leeway has gone way too far to the point where the only argument that the biased fans who agree with such ridiculous calls have is that “they are the experts and know more than you do, so don’t question them.”

Look at Super Bowl LIII. That game was a total farce. What should have been Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints was New England Patriots vs. Los Angeles Rams because of conference championship game officiating.

As usual, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got bailed out with a phantom “roughing the passer” call to keep a fourth quarter touchdown drive alive against the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, a game that the Patriots went on to win in overtime.

In the NFC Championship Game, Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman plowed into Saints wide receiver Tommylee Lewis, via helmet to helmet contact, no less, well before Drew Brees’s pass got to Lewis. No flag was thrown, and that cost the Saints the chance to bleed the clock down and win the game on a chip shot field goal. The Rams went on to win it in overtime.

Naturally, there were other missed/bad calls in both of these games, some of which that may have offset the bad calls discussed above to some extent, but on this level, blowing games in the final few minutes because of terrible officiating is unacceptable.

In a way, a prestigious game such as the Super Bowl loses its authenticity over this kind of, for lack of a better word, joke.

Then there was the missed double dribble call when Virginia Cavaliers point guard Ty Jerome was bringing the ball up the court in the final few seconds of Virginia’s Final Four matchup against the Auburn Tigers with the Cavaliers down by two points.

Virginia shooting guard Kyle Guy ended up being fouled on his missed buzzer-beater three-point attempt, and he made all three of his free throws, sealing the victory for the Cavaliers after the infraction committed by Jerome went unnoticed by the officials. Virginia went on to win the NCAA 2019 Men’s Basketball championship over the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

I could go on and on about past instances involving the NBA referees as well, but I wouldn’t know where to start, in part because I’ve given up watching the sport in general until pretty much the second half of the NBA Finals. So I’ll save it.

What is most alarming about all of this is the fact that these particular instances of ridiculous calls and no-calls have all taken place within the last few months.

So often we hear fans get criticized for criticizing officials. Other fans respond with questions such as “why don’t you try to do what they do?” or “they’re still a lot better than you would be!”

Sure, but there comes a point in time where people must understand that if any average human being were as bad at their day job as some of these officials are, especially in big moments, they’d be fired within a week.

But with so much poor officiating in this day and age, I guess one or two championship-ruining calls aren’t quite enough to put you on the hot seat.

 

 

Do these instances of terrible officiating in other sports make the FIA’s ridiculous and unwarranted decision to strip Sebastian Vettel of what would have been his first victory of the 2019 Formula 1 season in the Canadian Grand Prix acceptable?

Absolutely not. But they show that Vettel’s penalty is simply yet another example of a growing trend across the sports world, a trend that illustrates the fact that officiating is now at the point where champions can be determined by bad calls or no-calls far easier than ever before.

In itself, instant replay is a whole other topic, but especially in the age of such advanced instant replay, this trend must end immediately.