Sometimes Life Comes Down to a Simple ‘Doink’

Every time a National Football League placekicker lines up to kick a field goal, my friend Brian cringes. This holds true for college and high school field goal kicking, too, but his attention is most frequently focused on the professionals.

You see, Brian believes that field goal kickers are getting robbed.

I was over at his house, Sunday, watching the big game. At the end of the first half of the con-test, the visiting team rushed their field goal kicking unit onto the field. They hoped to add three points to their score before heading into intermission.

As time ran down, the placekicker drew back his leg, and launched what would have been a 52-yard field goal had the ball made it successfully through the uprights. Instead, the football sailed end-over-end, and smacked squarely into the left upright, tumbling harmlessly back onto the field of play. The score remained tied to the delight of 60,000 people in the stands.

“That’s just not right,” said Brian, shaking his head in disgust.

“Sure it is,” I said. “The ball hit the upright. It never made it through.”

“I’m not talking about that. I know it didn’t make it through. I just think there should be some points for that.”

“It’s a doink. No one gets any points for a doink,” I said.

“What the [heck] is a doink? I don’t remember seeing that term used in the rule book anywhere.”

“It’s not,” I said. “Football analyst Cris Collinsworth gets credit for popularizing the term in 2018. Kicker Cody Parkey’s game-winning field goal try was partially blocked, and the ball sailed to-ward the goalposts. However, it hit the right upright, then bounced off the crossbar, and ulti-mately came to rest in the end zone. My beloved Chicago Bears lost the game to the defending champions Eagles.

“Collinsworth called the kick a ‘Double Doink’. It’s an onomatopoeia.”

“A what-a-mata-pee-a?”

“An onomatopoeia. That’s a word that sounds like the noise it describes, like “smack” or “buzz” or “zap”. If you were at the game, that’s the sound you would have heard when the ball hit the goalpost.”

“If I was at the game, I wouldn’t have heard anything. I’d be downstairs getting a hotdog,” Brian said. He mused on. “It’s much harder to actually hit the goalpost than it is to not hit the goalpost. They should get at least one point for that.”

“This isn’t bowling, you know,” I said, quite surprised at how quickly I thought of a parallel. “They aren’t trying to hit the goalpost.”

“Well, they count a shot in basketball even when players aren’t trying to make it go in. Some ac-cidents get rewarded.”

Drat! I hate it when I get out-paralleled.

Besides, Brian may have just created a nice wrinkle to the game. Maybe we should give kickers an extra point when the ball hits an upright or the crossbar. After all, kickers have the elements to deal with. A muddy field, a cold football, a gusty crosswind affect their segment of the game more than any other.

Had Brian’s scoring system been in place in 2018, Collinsworth still could claim his “double doink” coinage, but I would have something to claim, too. A win! Adding one point for each part of the goalpost the football hit during Parkey’s kick, would have given my Bears the win over the Eagles 17-16.

“You may have something there, Brian,” I admitted.

“Yeah, but what good is it? They will never consider making a change.”

“Probably,” I started. “but there is precedent for change.”

“A field goal in the early years was worth five points. Because this created a lot of tie ballgames, the total for a successful field goal was lowered to four points in 1904, and then lowered again to the current three points in 1909.

“The goal posts were initially seated right on the goal line, but then they were moved back ten yards when end zones were added. When the passing game developed, the goalposts were moved back to the goal line to accommodate passes caught in the end zone. They were moved back to the end line in 1973 when “soccer-style” kicking became en vogue, and too many suc-cessful kicks were recorded.”

Brian thought for a minute. “That’s a doink,” he said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

He turned, scratched his back, then muttered as he walked away.

“Every time I have a great idea, someone is always moving the goalposts on me.”

John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.