Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has dual degrees in music from Ohio State University.


More questions, and more conversation about officiating in the NFC and AFC Championship games.  The state of Louisiana is threatening to sue.  And how to make it better, if you even can.  I say….I doubt it.

More conversation on Super Bowl week – a week after the NFC and AFC Championship games – over the officiating, and the egregious non-call against the New Orleans Saints that almost assuredly cost them a spot in this weekend’s game.

People are up in arms, demanding satisfaction.  A congressman from Louisiana wants to sue the National Football League.

Others want the game played over, as if there’s a mulligan in football.

I’m surprised someone in NOLA doesn’t want an 18th century pistol duel with Roger Goodell.  Ask Alexander Hamilton (if you see him in eternity) how that worked.

Almost everyone admits that the game could be officiated better, but no one can agree on how to do it.  More technology, and more cameras, mean even more down time for review, making the game longer, slower, and an almost certain disadvantage for one team or another.

An officiating friend of mine suggested this week that there be an added referee upstairs with access to the ears of the officials on the field, to instantly tell them there was a mistake (from his view of video in real time), and to huddle and make the correction.  Almost like review from New York, but quicker.

I’ve been asked a few times, because of my background in officiating…and if you really want to know what’s best for the game I’ll share.  But dimes to dollars, none of you ‘satisfaction demanders’ are going to like it.

My advice is…go back to the way it was before replay review.  Do away with it altogether.  I MEAN…ALTOGETHER!  For fifty years we relied on human judgment and put up with human error.  We disagreed sometimes, yes, but played on.

It seemed to work just fine.  If there’s no review there’s no constant replaying the mistake and fanning the flame.  I worked minor league baseball games for years, missed my share of calls, and took some heat for it.  But when it was all said the next day we came back and played again.  Yesterday was never mentioned.

They used to talk about the umpiring mistake in the ’48 series between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Braves – the last time the Indians won a World Series.  And more recently, everyone agreed that Don Denkinger blew a call in the 1985 series that helped the Royals beat the Cardinals.  But baseball went on to even better days and the people who watched those two events would remember it as a mere footnote.

Now, ESPN plays it back over and over and over to create narrative and controversy.  And for what?  Are we better for it?  Is the game better?

Really, is anyone truly satisfied when three people view the replay and come away with three different opinions?  Is there such a thing as indisputable evidence?

People are demanding that the officials who worked the Saints-Rams game be fired.  For real? Does it mean that much? At your own place of employment, do you want to be held to that high of a standard?

And whatever happened to…it’s just a game?  None of our lives are one bit better, or worse, if Reds, or Bengals, or Buckeyes win or lose on a particular day.  We all get up in the morning and go to work.  IT IS just a game, a diversion for about three hours from the stress of life.  When it’s over, win or lose, the stress comes back.  My life wasn’t better because the Buckeyes beat Washington in the Rose Bowl;  and, it wasn’t any worse last fall when the Reds finished last again.

There is no such thing as perfection in life, and no such person.  The only one that ever did live we crucified in a manner like what we now want to do the seven officials that worked a football game – and with full justification.

But here’s what’s going to happen.

They’ll add cameras and beat their chests in the name of ‘fairness’, like we always do.  IT’S GOT TO BE FAIR!

We’ll make the game worse than it already is.  It’ll be slower and with just as many questions, just different.

And when it’s all said and done, on Monday we’ll face our kids over some other issue and tell them with confidence, “Well, you know sometimes life’s just not fair.”

Or, if you live in Louisiana, you can tell him to sue!