Remind me why we’re doing this? Why is the whole country glued to grainy hyper-enlarged footage from multiple angles of a ball bouncing off some guy’s hands?
Because it matters! We need to know! Did it touch him? Like, did the ball at any point make contact with any part of him? If you look closely, you’ll see that it doesn’t seem to have touched his arm though it came pretty close. But his thumbs, however… see his left thumb? Did the ball graze it?
Who cares? He didn’t catch it, right? He was trying to catch it and he didn’t.
True. But it matters whether he failed completely, and didn’t touch it, or whether he failed to fail, and accidentally touched it.
Because he was fielding a punt. Or not fielding it. A punt is when the attacking team has failed to advance, so they kick the ball over to the defending team. Someone on the defending team has to catch it. Unless they let it roll around, in which case it’s a dead ball where it lands. But if they touch it but don’t catch it, then it’s in play and the attacking team can grab it. So if you’re not going to catch it, you step away like it’s a goddamn hand grenade.
Which he didn’t. He fucked up. And the other team got the ball.
Not so fast. He might have accidentally unfucked himself by fucking up his fuck-up. That’s why they’re reviewing it. See, if you consider the trajectory of the ball after it get near his hand, it looks like it probably—
Come on. How the hell can we tell? If he didn’t touch it, it was by, like, five millimeters.
We’re a nation of laws. Also, you mean one-eighth of an inch.
Okay, fine. So did he touch it?
Well, the officials on the field said he did. But then there was an order to review it.
Who ordered that?
Yeah, the league office. They watch all the games and if there’s something weird they get to call in and tell the referees to review their decision. If the matter is reviewable. The rules say some matters can be reviewed, and others can’t. That’s because—
Okay, okay. So that’s what’s happening now?
Yeah. Some dudes in New York are looking at the angles and so is the referee on the field. There’s some kind of conference among them. I don’t know how that works. No one really knows. But they reach a decision.
How are they going to tell? I can’t tell shit from these videos.
Right! Well there’s no point at which the ball obviously touches him. We can’t say that it touched him. But can we say that it didn’t touch him? That it obviously didn’t touch him? If they aren’t sure they have to go with the call on the field.
And waste all this time.
It’s not wasted! You get to enjoy more commercial messages from some of America’s most respected and innovative corporations. Come along, catch a heffalump. Dilly dilly!
Well it looks like it was worth it this time. They’re reversing the call! So he totally didn’t touch it! Why is everyone in this bar groaning? Don’t they care about the truth?
They don’t like his team. It keeps winning and there’s some weird Trumpian energies around it. You could say they’re tired of them winning. Ha ha ha. Get it?
No, I don’t get it. They’re from Massachusetts, right? All my friends there are rooting for them. And they’re voting for Elizabeth Warren. I guess I should root for the other team. So much for American liberals.
Well, the other team has a racist name, and its fans do a racist chant and gesture that disrespect Native Americans…
Who does Elizabeth Warren support?
So… are all the teams really messed up?
Pretty much. In the other championship game—
What do you mean, the other championship game?
Okay, semi-final. In the other semi-final, one of the teams is owned by a dude who gave a million dollars for Trump’s inauguration. The same dude owns Arsenal, by the way.
Gross. So what about the fourth team? Are they any better?
Not really, no. But they’re from New Orleans, and everyone loves New Orleans. WHO DAT? WHO DAT? WHO DAT?
I like New Orleans. So did they win?
No. They got robbed by the referees.
What? The referees fucked up that game too?
Worse. One of the New Orleans guys was clobbered in the head by a defender before the ball he was going to try to catch got near him. That broke two rules. Also it put the health of the player in danger. The league is cracking down on dangerous plays that can produce concussions and brain damage. Except, I guess it isn’t.
So you’re saying it was dangerous, and also obvious.
Yeah. Even the defender admitted it after the game. He said he interfered. And it was at a decisive point at the very end of the game. Called correctly, New Orleans would have won.
So why didn’t they review it?
It wasn’t a reviewable situation.
What the fuck?
We’re a nation of laws.
What kind of law is that? It doesn’t make any sense.
Yes it does. There’s a rulebook, and you have to follow it. Also, there’s a chance to review the rules at the end of the year. There’s a committee, and they get together, and they change a bunch of rules. For example, what constitutes a catch.
What constitutes a catch? Like, did the dude catch the ball or not?
Yes! You’d be amazed how complex a question that is, when you really think about it.
This is so weird. In soccer, the only real issue is the offside rule.
I’ve never understood that one.
Grab me those salt and pepper shakers and I’ll show you. How do people watch this sport? It seems designed to annoy, as well as incredibly dangerous.
You’d be amazed! Those decisions will be the hot topic in office lunchrooms across the country tomorrow. It is important to have topics of conversation. It builds corporate culture because everyone is engaged. Teamwork makes the dream work.
What I’m hearing here is, the society is obsessed with rules that are arbitrary, inconsistent, and arcane.
We’re a nation of laws.
So now what?
Now nothing. Los Angeles and New England advance to the Super Bowl. They pinned back their ears. They overcame adversity and displayed mental toughness. They executed complementary football in all three phases. They made a few more plays.
And the winner?
World champions, baby.