Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess: Take your brain out of neutral before debating sport

The debate over the Kiwis field goal 'that maybe wasn't' indicates that the global 'outsourcing' of our brains is going quite well.

The recent speculation, driven by some Australian "news" websites and fuelled by social media, that Shaun Johnson's match winning shot in Huddersfield actually missed, suggests that people are losing the capacity to think for themselves.

Over the last decade everyday life can increasingly be conducted on auto pilot. There is Google maps and other applications for driving and directions, Wikipedia for instant knowledge about anything and everything and search engines that can help you circumvent or circumnavigate other thinking or cognitive processes.

And then there is Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the 'anti-social' media that encourages knee jerk opinions and reactions, with no perspective or rational thinking required or valued.

That's one possible explanation for the rapid spread of theories about the field goal, which everyone at the ground in Huddersfield saw travel between the posts.

Surely that's enough proof. Does it not occur that the massed ranks of England fans sitting in the grandstand directly behind the posts would have been in uproar if there was even a hint that Johnson's shot had missed?

There are also the English players, many of whom were near the posts and turned to watch it sail over. Then there is the highly experienced referee, who was positioned just behind the New Zealand halfback as he took the shot.

But no, people would rather react to a facebook post or a twitter video, which from various angles supposedly casts some doubt over the shot.

There is nothing wrong with some debate about the finer points of sport - it happens all the time and is the lifeblood of a sporting contest - but it would be handy if people took their brains out of neutral before they began.

Autex - Proud sponsors of New Zealand rugby league since 1981.

- NZ Herald

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