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Twisted Logic: The ref’s five-count

You hear announcers say this all the time when one wrestler has an illegal hold on an opponent: “It’s legal until the ref gives him the five-count.”

Um, no. Not true. You don’t get to use an illegal hold for five seconds or even one second. An illegal hold is an illegal hold. If the ref chooses to count to five before forcing the break, that’s the ref’s call.

The logic of this “it’s legal until the ref gets to five” isn’t as twisted as it seems on first glance, though. In baseball, for example, players and managers know that arguing balls and strikes can lead to an immediate ejection. But do umps eject players and managers every time there’s barking from the dugout about a missed call? No.

Same in basketball. Coaches and players aren’t supposed to argue calls with the referees, but in my 20 years of covering college basketball, and tens of thousands of horrible curse words directed at officials for missed calls, I’ve heard refs take it, take it, take it, then give a warning, then give another warning, then say, “OK, one more word, and you’re gone,” and then, and only after that one more word, throw the offender out of the game.

You have to dang-near kill somebody to get thrown out of a college or NFL football game.

So the ref in wrestling chooses to count to five before forcing the rulebreaker to let go of an illegal hold. He’s just doing his job, of course, and when we get mad at him for not making the heel to break the hold, and we get mad at the heel for using the hold in the first place, hey, it’s working.

– Column by Chris Graham


augusta free press
augusta free press