The Secret Pundit Takes on The Commentators: Part 8: “The Referee Could Not Have Been Closer”

The Secret Pundit Takes on The Commentators: Part 8: “The Referee Could Not Have Been Closer”
October 25, 2017 Chris Rowland

By Per Dantic.

‘The referee could not have been closer’

That phrase never seems to go out of fashion with the commentators.

‘The referee could not have been closer’.

Have you heard this? They’ll throw it into the debate when the referee has had to make a judgement about an incident which was unclear and uncertain.

Was he tripped or did he dive? Did the ball cross the line or stay in play? Was it hand to ball or ball to hand? A judgement is called for and it could easily go either way.

The commentators use their reassuring tone of voice to let us know that he wasn’t just in the general vicinity of the incident but could not have been closer. They are reminding us that, whether we agree with his decision or not, he did have the best possible view and so can be expected to reach the correct judgement.

Are they suggesting that the closer you are to an incident the righter your judgement will be? The graph fans amongst us can picture one with ‘closeness’ and ‘rightness’ along the side and bottom, and then draw a straight line from lower left to upper right. That line would tell the story of a simple correlation between proximity and truth. The closest is the rightest and the furthest is the wrongest. Foul or a dive? Ball in or out? Ball to hand?

Step 1) Check who was closet?’

Step 2) Ask them.

But when they say ‘The referee could not have been closer’ how close was he? Typically in these situations he is approximately a yard away. At least. So clearly the referee could have been closer. There’s a whole yard of increased closeness available to him. And on the graph that we just imagined in our heads, the player making the tackle is closer to the top right corner than the referee. So is he righter than the ref?

The rest of this latest linguistic onslaught by our Secret Pundit is for Subscribers’ eyes only.