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DEFLATEGATE: The question that should be asked?

DEFLATEGATE:  The question that should be asked?

Rules are established to protect the integrity of whatever the rules govern.  For example, in PPM, it is illegal to own more than one manager account in the game.  If a manager does so, and is caught penalties will be incurred.  In last season's American Football Conference title game of the national football league (NFL), the New England Patriots were found to have used illegally deflated footballs and the incident has brought forth a firestorm of conversation about the failure of this season's Super Bowl champion's to obey the rules of the game.  In this article, I hope to discuss the topic in a slightly different way.  I would like to propose a new question that I believe should be being asked.  Why didn't the referees/officials actively respond to the rule abuse during the conference title game?  Meaning, if a team breaks the rules during a given game, shouldn't they be penalized during that game?


Let me set the stage.

November 2011:  Patriot quarterback, Tom Brady, spoke after a New York Jet game suggesting that he preferred deflated footballs, "When Gronk scores... he spikes the ball and he deflates the ball... I love that, because I like the deflated ball. But I feel bad for that football, because he puts everything he can into those spikes."  This quote would be regretted three years later.

Sunday, November 16, 2014:  New England Patriots vs. Indianapolis Colts.  Indianapolis intercepts multiple passes by Patriot quarterback, Tom Brady, and notice that the balls don't fill right.  They have the equipment manager inspect the balls and find that they are underinflated. 

Sunday, January 18 (AFC Championship Game) :   2 hours and 15 minutes before game time all of the footballs to be used in the game were inspected and found to contain 12.5 to 13.5 psi pressure (NFL rules).  During the first half, Indianapolis Colts alert officials of the potential of underinflated footballs.  League officials decide to not disrupt the game, but, wait til halftime to inspect the balls.  At that point officials determined that 11 of 12 of the balls used by the Patriots were under inflated by at least 2 psi.

May, 2015:  NFL imposes penalties on the New England Patriots.  The team faces a one million dollar fine and loss of 2 draft picks and quarterback, Tom Brady, was suspended for 4 games.  Patriot's owner, Robert Kraft, has accepted the team penalties; however, Tom Brady has appealed his suspension (final decision yet to be determined).

My Proposal

Based on the handling of the deflate fiasco, it is clearly evident that there is currently no in game penalty for the unsportsmanlike behavior of tampering with the football's pressure.  I believe that should be changed.  My proposal would be the following.  If a team suspects that their opponent has broken some game rule (for example, lowering the pressure in their footballs) they can throw the challenge flag and request a check for the proposed foul.   If the team challenged is found to be in violation of the game rule, the violating team will receive a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and the head coach will be ejected from the game, he would be placed in a sideline penalty box to watch the remainder of the game without any interaction with his team.  However, if the challenge fails to produce evidence of foul behavior, then the challenging team would receive a 15 yard delay of game penalty for the disruption that the challenge caused.  

Implementation of these penalties would help to deter illegal behavior and also provide some form of recompense for the team that has been cheated.


Back to the deflategate story (The science behind the story)

Tom Brady has suggested that the ideal gas law could support the loss of pressure.  I did my own math, but, used the Gay-Lusaac's gas law instead.  Gay-Lusaac's law relates pressure to temperature. It states that, for a given mass at a constant volume of gas, the pressure exerted on the sides of its container is directly proportional to its temperature.  Assuming that the locker room was warm (around 800F or 300C) and the temperature on the field was around freezing (320 F or 00C).  Also assuming, the ball was inflated at the minimum 12.5 psi pressure.  The pressure change would be 12.5 to 11.3 psi (less change than the 2 psi noted by the NFL inspection).  Alterations to the ball had occurred.



I have given some evidence and thoughts throughout the article.  It is clear that the footballs had been tampered with.  It is also clear that no penalty was imposed during the game and that for months the public and the NFL have dealt with these issues.  The time to deal with a penalty is during the game of record.  Further penalties can be given after the game, but, penalizing a team during the game that they are playing needs to happen.  If you have contact with the National Football League, please encourage them to consider changing the way they deal with these sportsmanship penalties.  Regarding the outcome of the Patriots-Colts league championship game, the penalties would have likely had little impact.  The Patriots won the game by 38 points (45 to 7).  What do you think?  Should penalties for breaking the rules be applied when possible during the game of record?  Thanks for listening and hope you are having a great weekend.  I am enjoying what's left of an incredible Memorial Day weekend.





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