How to respond when life is unfair

In sports, we obsess over endings and bad calls. It didn?t matter how many good calls I made during the course of a game as a basketball official; if I missed one late in a close game, all the good calls didn?t matter.

Human error is part of sports. No matter how much money we spend trying to eliminate it, it always finds a way in.

Earlier this summer, Major League Baseball told Royals manager Ned Yost that it blew a replay call in the eighth inning of a 2-1 Cleveland victory. The Indians scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, but only after a review of a potential double play earlier in the frame was upheld.

Yost responded with remarkable grace, given that the Royals had lost for the sixth time in seven games.

?There was enough blame to go around for everybody,? Yost said. He rightly pointed out that the Royals missed a double play opportunity in that same inning when a ground ball wasn?t fielded cleanly. That kept the inning alive and allowed Cleveland to break the tie.

?There are going to be mistakes. Things happen; mistakes are made. But the (replay) system is great.?

The fact that Major League Baseball admitted a mistake was made doesn?t change the outcome, but it?s better than being in denial.

In June, a disputed home run helped cost the Univer?sity of Louisville baseball team a trip to the College World Series in an extra-inning loss to Cal Fullerton.

Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said: ?There?s no shame in losing to a great program. I told our guys in the outfield, we?re not going to blame an umpire.?

Columnist Eric Crawford wrote: ?He said this, I believe, as much for his own benefit as for anyone else?s. He said it to give himself a little perspective, amid great disappointment.?

?There are the times you?re glad you?re a Chris?tian,? McDonnell said, starting to choke back tears. ?There are the times you?re glad you have a spiritual faith. You hear me quote the Bible when we win. I?m not perfect. I?m a sinner. But I love God, and I know he loves me. And he?s blessed this program. And we?ll be back.?

There?s not time or space to get into a theological discussion about the nature of God or the involvement of a higher power in sports. That?s for another day.

Crawford wrote: ?Ulti?mately, this isn?t a statement about a sporting event, but about life. And the program isn?t just about the College World Series, but about teaching and growing.

?And McDonnell?s particular form of faith, whatever else it represents for many, at its heart is about the ultimate loss becoming the ultimate good.

?Sometimes the ball stays fair. Sometimes it goes foul. Sometimes you have to live with what an umpire says. All the time, actually. You can produce all the witnesses you want; you can?t change the game.

?In life sometimes we lose. Sometimes it?s our fault. Sometimes the other guys are better. Sometimes we get the shaft.

?For reference in how to deal with that, see McDon?nell, Dan. Give credit. Take stock. Pray a little (or a lot). Move on.

?Even before I saw his postgame comments, I knew that was coming. It was the easiest call of the night,? said Crawford.

Joe Kleinsasser is director of news and media relations at Wichita State University. You can reach him at

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