Some readers want to hear my thoughts on Superbowl XL, where the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21-10. I wrote a couple of posts discussing how underrated the Seahawks are and how biased I consider the American sports media. OK, well…my opinion isn’t worth much, because what I write won’t change the outcome of the game. The Seahawks lost the game–as it was officiated. I believe the Seahawks may have lost partly due to a "whistle malfunction." The NFL is obstinately defending the league’s questionable officiating during the game. There is no way to know how the outcome would have changed had some or all of the questionable referee calls had been reversed. One thing is certain–I am not the only one who thought the Pittsburgh’s "touchdown" making the score 21-10 was not a touchdown at all. Less certain is whether the Seahawks would have won the game if the call had been reversed and/or other questionable calls had been changed. There are many intangibles to consider–could the Seahawks, who played well in the first half, have played better during the second half without all the bad calls and miscues? We’ll never know. I won’t begrudge Steelers’ fans–it is not the Steelers’ fault, and they won Superbowl XL. Just not fairly or squarely.
Tonight’s entry might sound like sour grapes, but the word I hear from across the pond is that officiating during the Superbowl is this year’s version of a "wardrobe malfunction" and that it has become the butt of Jay Leno jokes. Even Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger admitted on national television that he was surprised that Pittsburgh’s "touchdown" was ruled fair by the referees. Pittsburgh fans’ celebrations and gloating seem slightly muted with the knowledge that the officiating was questionable. To make matters worse, if you take away the disputed touchdown and assume that neither team scores for the rest of the game–a fair assumption–then the final score of the game was within the spread (Seattle -4). Everyone who bet on the Seahawks to win the game or lose by four points would have won money. If I had bet on the Seahawks, I would be absolutely livid with the NFL’s referees. Something smells fishy to me. In fact, someone I know who won money on the Steelers turned down some of his winnings because he was absolutely certain that the "touchdown" was not a touchdown at all. This is a gentleman who co-founded China’s professional men’s basketball league (ala Yao Ming), so he should know. The sports media, which got the outcome it favored (a Pittsburgh victory), has been maddeningly quiet on the questionable officiating. It reaffirms in my mind yet again that the sports media has an obvious pro-East Coast and California bias. If the Seahawks had been awarded that touchdown at Pittsburgh’s expense, I have no doubt in my mind that the media would have cried foul.
One other interesting Superbowl tidbit to note: NFL MVP Wide Receiver and Korean-American Hines Ward has become Korea’s newest favorite son. Before the Superbowl, Koreans would have been hard pressed to identify Ward. Now, he’s a superstar here and on his way to Korea, where he will receive a hero’s welcome. This is common in Korea, where Korean media companies broadcast world sporting events when top Korean players are playing. For example, many San Diego Padres games were broadcast last year when Pitcher Chan Ho Park joined the team. Now, Ward is the primary focus of the Korean sports media’s attention.
Blog Notes: Speaking of controversies–Korean Speedskater Ahn Hyun-soo and U.S. Speedskater Apollo Ono will clash again in their quest for gold in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. If you recall, Ahn and Ono clashed during the 1,500 meter finals at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah. Let’s hope that the two avoid controversy and that one of them win the gold–fairly and squarely. The last thing the U.S. and Korea need is another sports controversy following American Gymnast Paul Hamm’s disputed gold medal in the men’s all-around at the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. The Court of Arbitration for Sport determined Hamm won the gold medal over Korean Yang Tae-young, who claimed a scoring error cost him the gold.