Going Under the Hood

I’m not talking about the hood of a car. If you know me at all, you know the last thing I should do is to try to repair a car… or even open a hood. No, I’m talking about going under the replay hood. In the NFL, when a call on the field is questionable, they review the play via instant replay. The process goes something like this: the referee announces that the call on the field has been questioned and then he walks to the sideline and “goes under the hood.” He puts on a special headset, which gives him an open line of communication with the press box, which is situated far above the action on the field. Then he ducks his head underneath a cover (the hood) to look at a special video screen.

First of all, the hood shuts out the other noise and distractions, allowing him to focus. Second, underneath the hood, he has access to the view of every camera in the stadium, giving him entirely different perspectives from the one he had on the field. On the field, he can only see from one angle, and he is very close to the action… meaning there may be elements involved which are hidden from his view.

Another aspect which makes the official’s job difficult is the speed of the play. World class athletes are competing and colliding at nearly inhuman rates of speed. This means that he only has a split second to make a determination about what he thinks he saw. Underneath the hood, the referee also has the luxury of slow-motion, and now with HD video, he can even use what is known as “super slo-mo” or he can completely stop the action on a single frame of video (to see if a player’s foot is in bounds or on the line, for example). To the TV viewer, it can seem like these replays last forever… almost like the official doesn’t want to come out from under the hood. Can you blame him? In the middle of an afternoon of violent collisions; thousands of screaming fans… some of which are for one team, others are for the opposite team – so you can’t please both of them; and immense pressure to make the right decisions the referee gets to spend a moment with only one voice in his ear and he gets to slow everything down for just a second and get a different, crystal-clear perspective on things.

I had an “under the hood” moment, today. We keep our house somewhere between brisk and “I can’t feel my fingers and toes” at night, so when I first got up for my prayer time, I wrapped myself in a quilt. As I sat talking to God about the violent collisions, the screaming voices, and the pressure in my daily life, I pulled the quilt up over my head and said: “God, just give me a glimpse of Your perspective.” For just a few minutes everything slowed down. The outside noise seemed to stop, and I only heard one voice in my ear… a voice that came from far above the action. My perspective changed. Suddenly I could see a bigger picture and all the different angles and factors involved. . It reminded me of the way Jewish people use their tallits, or prayer shawls… often covering their heads when they pray.

To be honest, I didn’t really want to come out from under the hood, either. How about you? Could you use a little time “under the hood,” today?