The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Referees Affected Outcome of Superbowl 40

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/4/2012 Category: Sports
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,876 times Debate No: 20878
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (38)
Votes (1)




Resolved: The Seattle Seahawks would most likely have won Superbowl 40 with fair officiating.

Burden of proof is shared.

While we cannot know for certain how each team's strategy would have changed with unbiased calls, each side must make their case that their team would have won the game.

Pro: It is more likely that Seattle would have won with fair officiating.

Con: It is more likely that Pittsburgh would have won with fair officiating.

Five Rounds


Well I'm not on either side really. I just wanted to state to you that OF COURSE the referees are going to make a call that might seem unfair to people of the opposite team the referees are making the good call for. Know what I mean? Some calls are just down right outrageous, and dumb. But it's their call not the other teams or ours so anyways,there will always be some biased calls, some more outlandish than others. And anyways I'm not really going to debate you on this because for one I don't watch football and partly agree with you.. But I would like to see how you think that it was a unfair call because it was 21 to 10 I believe and I do know Willie Parker made 75-yard touchdown run. But other than that I don't know any information about Super Bowl XL
Debate Round No. 1


While there were many complaints about the officiating in Superbowl 40, few people realize just how bad it was. Some try to defend the calls, saying they were legitimate, but this does not address the problem.

Holding penalties and interference penalties are classified as "judgment" calls, because there is some holding on every play, and some interference on most pass plays. If they were to call every possible incidence of holding, we would never get through a football game because we would call holding on almost every play. This is why we have "judgment" in calling penalties.

Limited grabbing while engaged with a defender is permissible, but when the defender gets by the blocker, then continued grabbing should be penalized.

The first play on this video shows a very nit-picky penalty that turned out to be critical in the game. Even John Madden said it was a terrible call.

This series of four plays should go down as the biggest officiating fiasco in NFL history. I will discuss the rest of this video further in a later round.

Now, we will see three more blatant holding penalties by Pittsburgh that were ignored.

I will explain the effects of these calls in later rounds.

Another problem was interference calls. Here is a touchdown for Seattle that was negated by an offensive pass interference penalty:

And here is a blatant violation by Pittsburgh that was ignored by the refs:

This should have been a personal foul, 15 yard penalty.

Here is a comparison of the two plays:

These are some of the more obvious problems with the officiating of that Superbowl. While we can expect an occasional bad call, we cannot expect repeated mistakes going against one tea and nothing going against the other team.



Beachgirly forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Please extend arguments. Thanks.


I have chosen to not respond to this argument because my opponent was really looking for someone that actually knows about football and I know nothing about it (so it wouldn't be a good debate). I apologize to my opponent for choosing to participate in this debate and wasting his time especially because his previous opponent was complete troll. Once again I am EXTREMELY sorry.
Debate Round No. 3


No problem and I hope you find a worthy opponent next time you bring this topic up :)
Debate Round No. 4


Well, I am still open to debating it again. Thanks


Just replying so this debate can be over
Debate Round No. 5
38 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Beachgirly 6 years ago
Well this debate referring to Superbowl 40 is *OVER*, therefore we shouldn't really continue another debate in the comment section.. If you guys have a dispute bring it over to a voted on debate and see who is the one that is really "correct" (: !!
Posted by pacmantab 6 years ago

My weekend was great. Thanks!

Looking through your most recent two-parter, I actually had a lot to say. But since your post below suggests a call for a "truce," I'll defer for now.

I think Beachgirly makes a very solid point in Round 1. Basically the "fairness," "accuracy," etc. of a call can be largely based on one's perception. No matter which call, non-call, etc. we examine, one of us will be saying "a flag was warranted" while the other says "ticky tack" or "we can't tell." And we can call that being "stubborn," "disgruntled" or whatever.

I do applaud your unique take on the game….focusing mostly, if not exclusively, on the non-calls. I understand your perception of my take on the same, but I'll just stress again that proper debate should be: Tangible topic, point, counter-point; repeat for x iterations. A finite set of possible topics keeps things more on an even keel. Could you imagine how many "non-calls" we could pull from ANY NFL game…let alone this one in particular?

Having already talked about "might makes right" in a previous post, I am compelled to comment on the Holmgren comment. Bear in mind he was NOT speaking at an official NFL press conference, but at a fan pep rally after the game.

I'll suggest this: If you, for lack of a better term, "un-kick" some of those calls in SBXL, it likely results in a closer game perhaps coming down to the final play - but I think the Steelers still win it. And while there have been times I've felt angry when it's suggested my team didn't deserve the win, the fact people still debate this to this day does allow me a chance to reminisce on my trip to the Detroit and all the excitement of that day.

But again, as it appears you want call a truce, that's cool. Feel free to check out my website and touch base again should you want to try to pick this up again.

- Tim B.
Posted by HmblySkTrth 6 years ago
Well, I hope you are enjoying your weekend.

And honestly, I also hope you are as tired of this as I am! Let's face it: nothing will change.

You are in the "overwhelming minority" when you say the officiating didn't help Pittsburgh. It doesn't matter if it is deliberate "conspiracy" or not. And I sincerely doubt it was.

But the refs missed violations by Pittsburgh and called minor infractions on Seattle. Everyone else can see it. By everyone, I mean neutral observers and even Pittsburgh fans. Nothing you have said - or ever could say - will change that. It is one thing to call Seahawk fans biased, but it is absurd to call neutral observers and Steeler fans biased in favor of Seattle.

After the game, Holmgren said they were not only going against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also the guys in the striped shirts. At that time, the NFL gave out fines for complaints about refs like candy on Halloween, usually for saying LESS than he said. Yet, they didn't fine Holmgren because they knew he was right.

I also know I have a heavy burden saying Seattle would win with better officiating. While most agree the refs hurt, some Seahawk fans say they lost because of mistakes, like Stevens dropped passes. Then again, some Steeler fans say Seattle would have won.

Many responded that the refs had such an effect on the game that we will never know who would win with better officiating. That is an excellent viewpoint and explains why this game was such a travesty.

As a Pittsburgh fan, you should be angry at the refs for creating such a controversy and causing many to question the legitimacy of the Steelers victory. But don't be angry at the "overwhelming majority," most of which are NOT Seahawk fans.

And don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the Pittsburgh Steelers. That is a classy organization!

Conclusion: you will never convince people that the officiating didn't have a major effect, nor will I prove that Seattle would win with better officiating. Ti
Posted by HmblySkTrth 6 years ago
oops! my last sentence of PART TWO at the bottom was cut off:

And you say I commit logical fallacies?
Posted by HmblySkTrth 6 years ago

Well, you were the first to start the ad hominem by calling me a "disgruntled fan" with "wounded pride." The problem is your arrogance. You ASSUME you are right, and rather than trying to understand my position, you try to figure out what is "wrong" with me for disagreeing with "the truth." I disagree with you because you have not made a valid case.

Now, I give you taste of your own medicine. You disagree because you are too stubborn. Saying I have wounded pride is the same as me saying you are stubborn. Notice, I am not saying you are stupid.

You seem to think that your responses are a "refutation" of my points. Ha, very far from it! When you "counter," it is a far cry from a refutation. You respond, then wish to drop the subject by saying, "next . . ." That won't cut it. You need to address my points better before we can move on.

When I say I "edited" my video, I did not say I manipulated the film. There is no need to, since the film is incriminating enough. I only pointed it out better so the audience can see it clearer. At 13 and 34 seconds, Fischer clearly gets by Starks and has his back to him. Fischer tries to chase Ben and we clearly see Starks is still holding Fischer's arm, forcing him to turn toward Starks and making it look like they were still engaged. You MUST call that. NEXT . . .

Now on to the hold before the gadget play. The refs should have seen it because Babineaux makes the tackle. He would have made the tackle sooner without being blatantly held. You MUST call that. I brought this up twice and you ignored it twice. Guess you have no response. NEXT . . .

There is more reason to call both of these penalties than to call Locklear's hold.

Notice that these are both critical THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS. I could show more non calls, but I am trying to show the most important.

Posted by HmblySkTrth 6 years ago

And speaking of third down conversions, the second half of the "Seahawks Got Screwed" video is a third down conversion:

Yes, I plagiarized this video. But I don't think he minds, since we are on the same "team." Here is the second play:

This play is borderline, whether or not it is five yards from scrimmage. However, it should have been a personal foul, 15 yard penalty. This play is just one example of why Hines Ward has a reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the league.

You said you don't want to discuss non calls, but they were a big part of the game. Earlier in our discussions (comment 14):

"For every missed call against the Steelers I could find a missed call against Seattle."

Okay, show me some penalties by Seattle that should have been called. And show how important they were, like those third down conversions I have discussed.

If you think that is unreasonable, then let's read what you said earlier:

(Comment 14) "But what you are also indirectly suggesting with all these "bad calls" against Seattle is that the Seahawks, wire to wire, played within the rules."

(Comment 19) "IF you could prove that EVERY ONE of those calls were incorrect (not just ‘ticky tack,' ‘close' or ‘questionable'), then you could have a foundation to then explore why the non-calls were not called."

So, you are saying that I believe Seattle played penalty free football? And you are saying that unless I can show that Seattle EVERY penalty against Seattle was wrong, then we cannot discuss any non calls?

Are you serious??????? Have I protested EVERY call against Seattle? And do you believe that if Seattle committed even one legitimate penalty, then it is impossible for the refs to have made any errors?

And you say
Posted by pacmantab 6 years ago
Whoa! You think I've been "rude and condescending?" Really??

I'll forego the "meet Mr. Kettle" line and refer you to another logical fallacy you are committing: Ad hominem (to the man). My opinion at this juncture is: Realizing you have yet to make a point that I couldn't counter, you are now attempting to demonize me and paint me as the "bad guy" in this….while attempting to dismiss my rebuttals as a byproduct of my "failure to understand" your view.

Let's clarify something here: You can UNDERSTAND a view, and still DISAGREE with it. You seem to be attempting to establish that agreeing with your view is somehow a prerequisite to understanding it.

I did not respond to the other non-calls because I want to keep this discussion on a level playing field. I'll respond to one non-call for each call. Again, it's far too easy to scan the game footage for non-calls to artificially bolster your argument. And when a given non-call is shown to be inconclusive at best or proven wrong, you either add a fresh non-call or "edit" an existing non-call. Rinse and repeat.

And committing logical fallacies is one thing, stating out-right falsehoods as fact is quite another. To Bill Leavy's "admission:" First and foremost, let's be honest…he NEVER says a thing if he wasn't at the Seahawk training camp that year. And who's to say Leavy just said what the Seahawks wanted to hear? Finally, you're incorrect in your statement that he said he blew the holding call. He actually never specified the calls he "kicked (his exact word)," only that they occurred in the 4th Quarter. Now, if pointing out where you're wrong is somehow "rude and condescending," then I am truly sorry.

(continued below)
Posted by pacmantab 6 years ago
(continued from above)
Back on point: I saw your edit of the 78 on 94 video. Fisher rides Starks around the initial block/hit, but never gets completely past Starks. Look at time index 0:14. As Ben steps up in the pocket, Fisher is forced to turn back into Starks…allowing Starks to legally re-engage. Had Ben scrambled to his left, and Starks indeed had a hold of Fisher's hand, then holding would have likely been called. As it is, there is no way to conclusively tell whether Starks grabbed Fisher's hand. Actually, it could be argued that Starks' right hand is still "inside the frame…" at Fisher's armpit at worst. Finally, the umpire's line of sight is screened by other players…which goes back to a question of whether a call was simply missed, or too minor to warrant a flag. We don't know.

Again, I'll let you choose the next call (call, not non-call) to discuss next….
Posted by HmblySkTrth 6 years ago
There was nothing thinly veiled about my insults. They were well earned and long overdue. Are you not aware of how rude and condescending you have been? When I read your posts, I imagine you patting me on the head saying, "Poor disgruntled Seahawk fan, with wounded pride. It's okay, I understand what it is like for my team to lose a superbowl too."

Then when I read your post saying you wanted adult discussion from the start, it's a good thing I wasn't eating. I would have choked on my food!

I have never abandoned logic, but you make no effort to understand my view. Do you just want to exchange insults, or have adult discussion?

I never claimed that the superbowl was fixed. The refs didn't deliberately give the win to Pittsburgh, but they still helped Pittsburgh and hurt Seattle. While mistakes tend to balance in most games, this game did not.

On to the non calls again. I edited my video of hold 78 on 94. It is clear that he gets by the blocker, and even has his back to the blocker. Yet the blocker continues to grab his right arm. Watch at 33-34 seconds. FACT: if the refs called holding here, you would have no choice but to say it was the correct call. So THAT is why we need to look at non calls! Understand?

You never responded to the video about Hines Ward (86) grabbing Jordan Babineaux's (27) arm. This grab was even longer and more blatant than the previous example. Again, you must agree if they call it.

Both of the above plays had longer and more obvious holding than Locklear's hold. When Leavy said he blew the holding call, the NFL attempted "damage control." Obviously, they were being politicians! And they STILL admitted that the defender was offside. So the WORST thing that should have happened was first and ten at the 19, rather than first and 20 at the 29. The defender was offside the next play too!

And you put hold on Ben's touchdown in the "we don't know" category. Okay, running out of room, so I will let that go for now.
Posted by pacmantab 6 years ago
FYI...I will be away for my own three-day weekend starting Friday. Will be back on Monday. Since you threw a batch of calls my way, one of them a call I had planned to cover myself, I'll let you choose the next call. When I get to it for a rebuttal depends on when you post....
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: She gave up