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Irish Paddy

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Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:46 am

John Osborne on referees: Tiger Woods contravened the rules of golf at the Masters at the weekend but the rule adjudicators decided that the error was actually on the part of the referees for coming to the wrong conclusion. Tiger remained at the tournament and came close to another spectacular win in his pursuit of Jack. In Thomond Park on Saturday Paul O’Connell’s lower leg collided with David Kearney’s head (normally referred to as a kick in the head) but the authorities decided that David Kearney had actually placed his head in the wrong area (the surface of Thomond Park, Limerick). Two unrelated incidents where most fans would say the outcome ensured a more interesting and watchable experience. It is more difficult to assert that these decisions were beneficial to either sport in the broader context.

The men at the centre of these incidents are kings of their respective sports, the reason most fans tune in. They exert incredible power without saying a word. They put the awe in awesome. And thrall extends beyond the fans and advertisers all the way to the famous “powers that be”. The Uberstat of the Racing Post, Kevin Pullein, did an analysis of football matches to try to define what created home advantage. The pitch is the same size, the goals are the same size, the travelling is not as arduous as before, so why does one team seem to have an edge? The cacophony from the stands is hard to attribute to one team only, unless the visitors wear earplugs, so the atmosphere ought to be stimulating for both sides. The analysis revealed that the effect was because of the change in attitude of the referee! It is statistically proven that more decisions go the way of the home team (unless it is Arsenal).

None of these sports relies on amateurs for their decisions, yet all three have shown the inclination to cave in to commercial or partisan forces in arriving at a decision. Racing has its own way of applying the rules. Since the game began there have been cries of inconsistency or worse. We celebrate Minoru’s win in the Derby of 1909, as he was born and raised at Tully, but the lack of a photo-finish camera in those days made King Edward VII (in whose colours he ran) a short favourite in the judges box. He was the winner by a short head. Or a brown nose.
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