This is my first ever blog post on hand-egg, or the sport that the Americans call as “football” despite you being allowed to run with the ball. I’m writing this as I try to watch the SuperbOwl and try to understand the rules while I’m doing so. So far it looks like a heavily discretised form of rugby, but with none of the elegant pass-and-move routines. People like to fall too much it seems.
Anyway, this post is not about this game. This is about the semi-finals, where the New England Patriots were accused of “deflating” the ball. Over the last week my twitter and facebook timelines have been filled with this controversy. People have mostly been outraging about it one way or the other. I’ve had to mute a lot of people on Twitter for this reason.
As far as I can see it this controversy is similar to the reverse-swing controversy that dogged cricket in the 1990s. The question is if you are allowed to change the ball to suit your conditions as the game goes on. In cricket, people spit on one side of the ball and shine it and try to wear down the other side (sometimes using illegal means such as lozenges and bottle tops respectively). The convention in cricket, however, is that as long as such illegal materials aren’t used to change the ball, there is no problem with maintaining the ball in the way it suits you best. And the opponent (the batting side) can ask for a change of ball if they think it’s been changed too much.
Drawing an analogy from there the rule in hand-egg should be simple. Players should be allowed to do what they can to change the condition of the ball to suit them (inflation/deflation/whatever) as long as they don’t use “illegal materials” for the purpose. So if they use a pin to let out air from the ball, it’s possibly illegal. But if they just use their hands? Possibly not. And so forth.
The only problem is that unlike cricket, hand-egg is a simultaneous game (both teams have opportunity to attack at any point in time), so you might have the two teams wokring the ball at cross purposes. Then again, as long as you have the rule that the opponent can ask for a change of ball in case they think it’s been changed irretrievably, it’s fine!
So coming back to the semifinal controversy, I think the fault lay with the quarterback of whoever the Patriots beat. That guy, if he were clever, should have figured out the “tampered” ball when he got it, and asked for a change. It appears that he was either not clever enough to figure that out or that the Patriots had so much possession that he didn’t have a chance to even touch the ball!
No point crying after the game was up!