Why the “If You Played the Game You’d Understand” Argument is Old and Tired

Earlier today former Detroit Tigers whipping boy, CJ Nitkowski fired off the following tweet:

I’ll avoid referencing the obvious irony that Nitkowski himself has been relegated to a keyboard and instead focus on the former professional athlete/coach explaining away mistakes and errors as “you can’t do it either, that’s why you watch, you just will never understand how difficult it really is”

Most people watching sports understand that they cannot do things at the level of the pro athlete, that is why we watch.  However, to imply that people cannot understand the game, the situation, the play that needs to occur simply because we didn’t play professionally is irresponsible.

Gene Lemont did not make one erroneous decision, this has been an on going “why send him” or “why didn’t you send him” for years.  One thing most Tigers fans have learned if they didn’t already know from their own playing days (I may not have played professionally but I did play baseball my entire youth) is that when the outfielder has the ball in his glove and the runner hasn’t yet touched third base…HOLD THE RUNNER.

When that outfielder has a good arm and has made multiple great plays already this series and your runner weighs over 300 pounds and there are no outs, YOU HOLD THE RUNNER.

This was not a “oh, he was out, Lemont screwed up” scenario, no, it was most people screaming “WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY” the entire time Fielder was running towards home.

And for Nitkowski to imply that because I have a keyboard I would be paralyzed coaching third base is just incorrect.  I am pretty sure that, since I have two working eyes and two functioning arms, I would have been able to see that Blanco had picked up the ball and was turning while Fielder was about to hit the bag.  This means I would throw both my arms in the air and yell stop.

This isn’t the age old story of an athlete being boo’d for not performing and telling a fan off b/c he can’t do it himself.  I cannot throw 95 mph, I cannot run a 4.4-40 yard dash, my slap shot is not 100mph and despite being sort of tall, I am absolutely terrible at basketball.  But again, just because a person cannot accomplish an athletic feat them self, does not mean they do not understand what needs to be done.

This is simply a fan understanding the game they spend so much time watching and knowing the scenario.  I’m not caught off guard when on 3rd and 15 a football team throws the ball, I have basic comprehension skills and again, two working eyes.

Lemont should have not sent Fielder in that situation and most everyone agrees.  Nitkowski probably agrees too, but he likes to boast that, since he was born left handed was able to bounce around The Show for a decade, getting cut time and time again, he knows more than you.

I don’t argue that Lemont has forgotten more about baseball than I will ever know about the game, but don’t speak condescendingly because I didn’t play in the pro’s…with out people being upset that the Tigers are down 2-0 then there wouldn’t be a league and Mr. Nitkowski wouldn’t have made a bunch of money for having a silly skill.

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