On Sunday, most Americans will gather with family and friends, and watch the Super Bowl. It should be an interesting football match between the Rams and the Patriots, and I am looking forward to Sunday. I remember being in Ghana last year for a dear cousin’s memorial on Super Bowl Sunday. I said to myself that I was simply too far away to be worried about Super Bowl. But as I sat at home reflecting on all that I was missing, fun, food, company, and entertainment, I decided to look for a place to watch the game. I remember saying to myself, "I am, after all, an American, and there’s nothing so American than football."
I drove off with a friend to an expatriate pub. Thankfully, they were showing the match and, much to my surprise, there were patrons wearing both Eagles and Patriots shirts. It was simply electric. My friend, who lives in London and didn’t understand American football, didn’t quite get what all the hoopla was about. Well, I made an effort to explain to him what the sport was about - offense, defense, quarterback, touchdown, field goal... you name it. He still didn’t understand it, but was glad we could come out and have a great time with other Americans on Super Bowl Sunday.
Well as many of you may already know, Sunday game isn’t without controversy. In both the AFC Championship game between Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs, and in the NFC Championship game between the Saints and the Rams, the referees didn’t make critical calls, and made some other calls that shifted the momentum of the game, leading to the Rams and Patriots both winning their respective matches. Both the Saints and Chiefs coaches complained about this, and in the case of the Saints' game there was a suggestion that the NFL Commissioner could invoke a particular rule which could possibly lead to a replay... but guess what? The games were over.
Truth is, on the field of play, referees, like all of us, make all kinds of calls - some are accurate, and others are not so accurate. However, whether accurate or not, I think the ingenuity about refereeing is to affirm the notion that nothing human is, and can ever be, without errors or mistakes, because referees, like all of us, often make wrong calls. For me, it is more than the beauty of being human; it is the essence of our redemption story.
Because of no calls - or bad calls - from two different referees on the same day at two different places, we now have to watch the Rams and Patriots do battle as opposed to the Chiefs and Saints. The reality is, in whichever way you look at our lives, someone ultimately benefits from another person’s call - whether accurate or not.
I have never been a referee in a football game or any other sport, and thus it would be counterproductive on my part to speculate, but I am certain that referees at such pivotal games come under enormous pressure to get it right, because there’s really no do-over at the conclusion of a game. That being said, I would add that, like you, I am a different kind of referee - but also one who makes no calls, and calls both accurate and inaccurate. But my deepest consolation has always been my unyielding belief in the fact that with God, there’s always a do-over if I do not make the right call... although it is my prayer to always make the right call.
I don’t know which of the two teams - Patriots or Rams - you will be supporting this Sunday. But I hope you will have a wonderful time with family and friends. I will be rooting for the Rams, and I hope it is the right call.