In honor of today’s big event — Super Bowl LIV (although not necessarily in honor of today being the second-largest day for food consumption in the United States) — allow us to begin with what may at first appear to be a post about football. Granted, our intro is a mere analogy; this post really, remarkably, potentially, has very little to do with football…

“Targeting” is a penalty on the gridiron; it may be called at some point in today’s game in Miami. Let us briefly expound, sharing the full NCAA (college) rule from which the NFL has “borrowed liberally”:

“‘Targeting’ means that a player takes aim at an opponent for purposes of attacking with forcible contact that goes beyond making a legal tackle or a legal block or playing the ball. 

Some indicators of targeting include but are not limited to:

Launch — a player leaving his feet to attack an opponent by an upward and forward thrust of the body to make forcible contact in the head or neck area.

A crouch followed by an upward and forward thrust to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area, even though one or both feet are still on the ground.

Leading with helmet, shoulder, forearm, fist, hand or elbow to attack with forcible contact at the head or neck area.

Lowering the head before attacking by initiating forcible contact with the crown of the helmet.”

“Targeting,” therefore, is the intent to tackle in an illegal, forcible way; it’s thought to be a tackle with an intent to harm.

Let me go out on a semi-humble limb and suggest the rule’s application is inconsistently called and highly controversial. Ask any Ohio State fan after their national semi-final vs. Clemson last December; the ruling can have a significant impact, for when “targeting” is called, the person believed-to-be-the-offending player is eliminated from the rest of the game.

Here’s the part that gets me… 

Educated and uneducated observers are watching what happens…

They know the game; they know the rules, and they have passions, opinions, and convictions as to who is better, who is worse, who they like, and who they don’t.

They make all sorts of observations.

And then they judge intent.

Let me be clear…

Without any direct insight into the heart and mind of the one who is believed-to-be-the-offending player — the one called for “targeting” — observers feel capable and confident of making the call. Of judging, if you will.

In football, when calling “targeting,” the officials are cognitively adding their piece to the story, so-to-speak; they are suggesting they know why the player did what he did without knowing what was in the player’s head at the time.

So let me ask today’s zillion dollar question…

Where do we, friends, add to the story?

Where do we allow our observations to dictate the narrative?

Where do we feel capable and confident of making the call — of judging another’s intent — even though we don’t know what’s in the heart and mind of another?

That no doubt, might actually change the story.