William F. B. O'Reilly is a Republican consultant.
Seattle, WA -- Tuesday, Sept. 25: Seattle Seahawks coach and executive vice president Pete Carroll today called upon the NFL to reverse the game-ending call Sunday that gave his team a 14-12 victory over the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field.
"We've reviewed the tape and the Packers player clearly intercepted the ball in the end zone," Carroll said. "We will therefore not accept the awarded victory from that play, and we urge the league to award the win to Green Bay instead, which rightly deserved it. This is not how the Seattle Seahawks want to win games."
Wouldn't it have been great if Pete Carroll had sent that news release the day after the botched call that unfairly gave his team a victory?
But he didn't.
This is what Carroll really said:
"They see it, they don't see it. That happens with the officials. And so the result is they called it, the league backed it up, game over, we win."
In other words, Carroll, who undoubtedly reviewed the play like millions of other Americans, condoned the lie of a win and ran. And that is perfectly acceptable in American sports.
But why is it?
Why do we raise our children to be virtuous, press them into playing sports, which gives them so many benefits -- chief among them the quality of sportsmanship -- and then teach them to lie en masse when an unambiguously incorrect call favors them or their team?
We all do it. We rationalize the larceny away. "It's part of the game," I have explained unconvincingly to my wife. "Sometimes you get a bad call; sometimes you lose one."
That's true. But in cases this clear, does that make it right?
When I was a kid, I was given a book of football short stories. In one story I'll never forget, a high school glockenspiel player in the school band is discovered to have an arm like a cannon when the football sails out of bounds, and he fires it back onto the field. Within a week, he is transformed from bespectacled band nerd to Big Man on Campus -- the letter sweater, the cheerleader girlfriend, contact lenses, the whole thing.
As quarterback, he leads his team to victory after victory. Then, in the state championship game, with time expiring, he tiptoes 30 yards down the sidelines for a score. The referees stand with their arms signaling touchdown. The home crowd is delirious. The pretty blonde cheerleader grasps the player's school ring hung on a chain around her neck and cries tears of joy. All is bliss.
Except in the heart of our hero.
He and only he knows that he stepped out of bounds on the 15. What to do?
In this storybook, the boy confesses to a referee, walking him back to the spot of the violation to show him the imprint of his cleat, which is unmistakably out of bounds.
The call is overturned. The other team is awarded the victory, and our protagonist is quite suddenly the goat -- until he gets back to the locker room.
There, the coach assembles his team to proclaim that never before in his coaching career has he been so proud of one individual player. Athletics, he says, are meant to teach the virtue of effort and the nobility of clean competition. This young man, he says, has done more to demonstrate those qualities today than a hundred victories could. Here is the young man the other players should seek to emulate throughout their lives.
I don't recall the name of the coach in the story, but it clearly wasn't Pete Carroll.