Opinion: Time For A Little Context

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Since time immemorial there have been issues with the lack of context. It's something often used or abused to further a narrative or position. Sometimes we lack context for other reasons, like just not having any other information. And there are some who just don't care, don't have time for, or just flat out don't want to believe in context. It's sad but true. Last week we had an example of this, but two more (among MANY) popped up during college football games this weekend. First, the Joe Hubener story, second the BYU "groin punch" guy.

Lack of Context #1: "Joe Hubener has never started at QB before."

Joe Hubener never started a game as the varsity QB for his high school football team. He also hasn't started a game at the collegiate level. Those statements are both true, and without context paint a pretty easy narrative. Except they don't tell the whole story about Joe and his experience as a quarterback. Just like many small towns across the country, Cheney, Kansas had one guy bigger and faster than everyone else: Joe. Joe could throw the football; he started plenty of games of freshman/JV ball as QB. But he could also run well and catch. So instead of limiting their best player solely at QB, they let another guy start there and moved Joe around so they could get him the ball. But he did also play QB for the varsity squad, he just never started the game there.

Fast-forward to Joe at Kansas State. Yes, Joe started his first game against UTSA, but it's not like he hasn't played in a real game before. Joe was the primary backup in 2014, seeing the game in several blowouts (good and bad for K-State). He had the long pass of 2014 in late action against TCU. And while he technically didn't start, for all intents and purposes Joe started the game against South Dakota. He took all but the first two snaps of the game (before garbage time when Delton came in), which sounds like a starter to me.

So yes, it's a nice little narrative to say this was Joe's first start and treat it like a big deal or a crazy idea. You can't also act like Joe's never played football before, or that he'd never seen time at QB before. The K-State fans reading this understand that, but the "national" guys and the FS1 announcers obviously only read the headline and have completely ignored the context.

Lack of context #2: "BYU player punches Boise State player in the groin."

A video/GIF went viral during the BYU/Boise State game last night. It showed a BYU offensive lineman fighting for a ball with a Boise State player, and in the process rearing back and punching him in the groin. Yikes. But what you don't see in that snippet is what happened before that. How those two got tangled up in the first place, and what precipitated the contact.

BYU was on offense, 3rd down, and botched the start of the play. The football scooted across the grass, and the offensive lineman in question fell on it. There was no one else around, but he did what you are supposed to do in that situation and secure the football. The BYU lineman had clearly given up on the play and is lying on the ground with the football. Then the Boise player comes in, dives into the lineman, and proceeds to try and fight for the football. The play was dead, and yet the Boise player initiated contact. The resulting scrum ended with the groin shot and an unsportsmanlike flag for BYU. But there was no penalty for the Boise player who caused the altercation in the first place. The punch was bad, but could have been avoided had the Boise player not dived in at the lineman after the ball was dead. The BYU player will take all the blame, and his temper obviously flared, but the Boise player made it worse. If the rules had been applied fairly, there should have also been a flag on the Boise player for late hit. Without context the BYU player looks like a big thug; with context you can see that it wasn't all his fault, and maybe we should give the guy a bit of a break because we've all been there.

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