Collier: It's just a matter of time
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Very few working superheroes are as demonstrably awesome as these people in the black-and-white striped costumes adjudicating college basketball's riotous postseason.
The skill sets on these guys are right out of science fiction, their mission imbedded in 21st century techno-creep at its scariest.
You'll see it again starting tonight and throughout the weekend.
In the final minutes of nearly every game, it seems, these officials walk to the scorer's table, consult with the available video technology and simply create time.
I just hope the stoners are watching.
Dude, you can create time?
Well that's what it looks like. There aren't 1.2 seconds left in this basketball game. There are really 1.9 seconds left.
OK, two questions.
1. Where did the other seven-tenths of a second come from, and ...
2. Why stop there?
What I'd like to see is the three officials reviewing the work of the timekeeper and definitively recalculating that the actual time remaining is not 1.2 seconds, but 14:46.
Otherwise, aren't we assuming that the work of the timekeeper, up until these final 1.2 seconds, was 100 percent perfect? He or she never erred by one-tenth of one second either way until just now, when, of course, the outcome of the game is itself at hand?
Wouldn't it be fairer to both sides to just let the timekeeper's inevitable imperfections play out uninterrupted and unchallenged? If a rebound fell out of bounds with 19:13 left in the first half and the timekeeper didn't hear the whistle until 19:12, that's perfectly all right apparently.
And do you know why it's perfectly all right? Because it is; it's just not technologically all right, and that's what has sports in the unreality soup as the 21st century unfolds. This is why Art Rooney II was so dead right in his stated opposition to the new NFL policy that will have all scoring plays reviewed automatically, including field goals.
"The fans are going to sit there and wait and, 'OK, is that a touchdown or not?" he asked the Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette incredulously at the owners meetings this week.
That's no way to watch football, but eventually, it'll be the way we watch everything. In the near future, the results of sporting events will not be available until 48 hours afterward, or once all the replays have been reviewed, recalibrated to sea level, interpreted by the Toronto Video Goal Judge Tabernacle Choir, tweeted to its 34 followers, and delivered to your I phone -- and of course, standard text messaging rates will apply.
So it's not just that galloping technology carries us toward the end of thought. That's merely the longer-term goal. At some point, humans will be locked into texting, tweeting, blogging, thumbing their blackberries to ward off conversation and its occasional byproduct -- thought! -- chatting on line, downloading, uploading, reloading, skyping, typing, griping and changing their relationship status to single because no one will have time for anything resembling an original thought let alone a relationship, that only the Amish will just sit under a tree and contemplate anything.
Contemplation is so 20th century.
But somewhere before the end of thought, we'll surely come to the end of sports, as sports is at a slightly lower elevation in the cerebral topography.
You can no longer have sport, at least as a purely human creation/endeavor, when it is fueled by a video technology that has taken us beyond our own reality.
For example, let's examine briefly, you'll excuse the 21st century redundancy, the case of golfer Padraig Harrington, disqualified in January in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship when a television viewer noticed that the golf ball moved ever so slightly as Harrington removed his marker on the green. Harrington thought his ball might have "oscillated," but didn't see it actually move, and thus signed an incorrect scorecard -- one that didn't include a one-stroke penalty for inadvertently moving his ball.
In super slow-motion HD, in an extreme close-up, Harrington's ball moved what the golfer later described as "three dimples forward" and "maybe a dimple and half" back.
Is this what we've come to? We're determining someone's final score by detecting near-hypothetical motion that can't be seen with the naked eye?
NHL fans are already dealing with this on a nightly basis. The puck might be in the net, the players might be hugging, the deafening goal horn might be Matt Cooke-ing your ear drums, the goalie might look mighty dejected, but it's not a goal until someone in Toronto says so.
How could I make that up?
I was able to read NHL Rule 38 this week, with its six subsections describing what the video goal judge is supposed to do, right down to what he's supposed to say after he's done doing what he's supposed to do.
If the goal was good, he's instructed to say, "it is a good goal."
Perhaps thought was overrated anyway.
First Published March 24, 2011 12:00 am