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Seat G17

How far can a prank go?

The Authority on the Field

As the ball soared through the air like some sky deity carrying it aloft, it soon descended into the hands of the receiver, Perry Boaz. On this Sunday in Wilmington, Delaware, the stands remained packed. Boaz held the ball like a baby, too precious for the defense to seize from him. He trotted into the end zone with the defenders trailing him. He began to dance. The rest of the team crowded around Boaz and started to flail their arms and stick out their legs in celebration. Then referee Travis McGent began to shuffle and spin around. This continued for at least twenty more seconds. Until McGent realized what he was doing.

“What is he doing?” Asked veteran sports announcer Grey Dansk. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. A referee, the paragon of all things unbiased seems to have some kind of affinity with the Delaware Mint.”

Color analyst Ford Bompton added, “That man sure has a great deal of explaining to do.”

McGent then exited the game to much laughter, calls, and confusion. He even received mock support for his antics. His substitute took over his position. On that Monday morning, McGent visited with the commissioner of the league, Karl Ving.

“Mr. McGent, your behavior yesterday afternoon was completely out of line. You know better than to celebrate with another team. It’s non-objective. And it doesn’t reflect well on this league or you as an individual. I’m going to let you officiate one more game this Thursday in Rhode Island, but if you act up, I’m going to have to suspend you. Do you understand?”

“Yes, sir. I do.”

“Good. Now, you go out this week and behave as the professional I know you to be these past 15 years,” Ving said.

“Yes, sir.”

McGent rode home with a bit of sourness in his stomach. He rubbed the back of his neck. He noticed a bump on it. He drove with one hand and attempted to peel off the protrusion. It was a transmitter. He held it in his palm and drove all the way home like that.

At his house, he went into his garage and tinkered with the tiny device that was about the size of an almond. He inspected it further.

“G17,” he said to himself.

That Thursday, he looked spiffy. His starched black and white striped shirt at least spoke of his intention to be professional again. Once the Rhode Island Reds took possession of the ball, the running back Whittaker Coleman flew past the Mint’s defense into the end zone.

McGent’s hands went skyward and then he began to shimmy. It was all a ruse.

“He’s at it again. Folks, this is not what the Columbia Football League is about. We’re all professionals here. McGent may be going through something,” Bompton said.

McGent stopped his fake dance and looked up at seat G17 which was closer to the field than he thought. He could see a kid who couldn’t have been more than 16 years old chortling with a smartphone in hand. The transmitter was in McGent’s pocket. He motioned for his substitute to take to the field.

He ran all the way into the stands, almost accosted on a few occasions, and stopped the kid in mid flight. He grabbed him by the wrist.

“Hey let go of me, man!”

“Why did you do it? Were you trying to end my career? How did you do it?”

“It was at that signing with the players and refs. I put my arm around your neck and applied it. You can’t feel it attach. Seat G17 is in the same place everywhere. It was just a gag. I made you more famous than ever. The video generated over 100 million views in a few days. You’re a star.”

“Oh, no. You’re not getting your way out of this by complimenting me. This could have cost me my livelihood.”

“Look, I’ll tell everyone that it was just a hoax gone viral.”

“Hey-—”

“I kid. Don’t worry.” Then the boy started to quiver.

McGent presented his smartphone. "When I grabbed your wrist, I attached it to you. Now, you dance!”