When a referee makes a mistake I expect a good commentary team to discuss the decision. I want them to break down why the decision was wrong, show evidence that it was wrong, and then talk briefly about the possible ramifications that will follow from that wrong decision before going back to calling the football game.
During Sundays finals match between the Melbourne Storm and Canterbury Bulldogs the referees and the NRL itself were heavily criticised because the on field officials were making the RIGHT calls.
When it looked as though the Melbourne Storm had scored an incredible try, possibly the try of the season, you hoped the referees would give it.
As soon as I saw the replay which ultimately saw the decision come up as no try, I felt the call was going to be no try. It sucked! I wanted that amazing play to end up being a try! Unfortunately it looked like the Storm player had touched the ball with his hands, that was then propelled forward into the Bulldogs defender, and that is a knock on.
What followed was a ten minute diatribe by Phil Gould about how the NRL and the video referee is ruining the game. Looking completely past the fact that the decision was right, Gould didn’t hold back in being critical of the game to the point where he sounded like he was about to give it away for good.
Not a great look for the Penrith Panthers general manager…
Later in the match a very, very late hit on Michael Ennis eventually led to a penalty. This was another correct call that was lambasted by the commentary team.
If you follow me on Twitter you know that when games are being played we discuss the commentary of games fairly regularly. When I tune into a game I want commentators to just do their job and relay to me information about the contest while adding a little bit of excitement to the whole thing from time to time.
I don’t want to hear commentators constantly attacking the integrity of the game in an effort to push their own agendas. I don’t want to hear a bunch of old men trying to run an amateur comedy show. I don’t want to hear grumpy old men niggling away at each other. I don’t want to hear sideline commentators trying to out do one another with obscure references and in jokes.
Now the easiest thing to do is press the mute button or try to sync radio coverage of the game with what you’re watching on TV. The problem is, what commentators say rubs off on people. When they hear the commentators attacking the referees for a supposedly terrible decision, they are heavily swayed by that.
If the referees make a howler and the commentators call them out on it, fair enough. When commentators attack the refereeing decisions that are right….then we have a problem.
I don’t tune in to see pre match entertainment, pre game shows, and I certainly don’t tune in to listen to the commentary team. I don’t care who is calling the game, as long as they are just doing their job.
The NRL really needs to consider the way the game is covered when it starts to negotiate the next broadcasting deal. Broadcasters buy the right to show the sport and sell advertising on the back of the television ratings the sport brings. They don’t buy the right to do and say what they want about the game and be critical of the sport just when they feel like it.
A new broadcaster might be able to inject new life into the way Rugby League is presented to the general public. Hearing new people calling the game would be a good thing.
At the very least they might take the time to consider that the rules of the game are the rules of the game, and no matter how much you complain about them and then pout as the game winds down, they are not going to change just because you want them too.
For now, we will just have to put up with what we receive from commentators. That being said, if they really do get fed up with Rugby League, they know where the door is…