Confetti Drops Early at Atlantic 10 Champion Game; Announcer Kevin Harlan Blames “Somebody”

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Earlier today, during the Atlantic 10 Conference men's basketball championship game between Duquesne and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), celebratory confetti briefly fell with 17:54 left in the second half.

CBS play-by-play announcer Kevin Harlan said, “Oh my gosh, they've got confetti falling right now. Confetti is falling on the floor. They're gonna have to stop play. We can't see our notes! The players can't work on this court! CONFETTI IS EVERYWHERE!”


Those all seem like true statements. Good reporting from the courtside table by Harlan.

But then the blame game started, as Harlan said:

“Somebody hit the wrong button!”

That was complete speculation on Harlan's part.

The referees stopped the game for a little clean up.

The color commentator adds, “Well, Kevin to be honest with you, there's not a lot of this confetti that made it onto the court. Most of it… fell on us!”

Now, this was all a light-hearted moment. Nobody was injured.

But the blame game is far too common. It's human nature. We jump to conclusions.

I was taught by problem-solving mentors to be careful about specifying:

  • What do you know to be fact?
  • How do you know it to be fact?

We have to be careful about distinguishing between facts (confetti is falling too early) and assumptions (somebody hit the wrong button).

I hope somebody at the arena was going into “root cause problem solving” mode, with the focus being on understanding HOW this happened instead of asking, “WHO screwed up?”

It could have been caused by:

  • Somebody hitting the wrong button
  • Somebody hitting that button accidentally
  • A electro-mechanical failure that caused the confetti to fall

Think about this in your own workplace… how quickly do you jump to blaming “somebody”??

This Has Happened Before!

Confetti was accidentally dropped prematurely a few years ago at a Philadelphia 76ers game in the NBA, as shown in the first video below.

This was a different situation where a Sixer hit a shot at the buzzer at the end of regulation. Somebody might have thought it was a game-winning three-pointer… but it was a two-point shot.

That's a different type of mistake…


And some confetti started falling mid-game during an Atlanta Hawks game, as seen in the next video below.

“… A legitimate confetti issue” said the announcer.

“Must be some sort of malfunction with machinery that has emitted,” was the assumption this time.

But the color commentator muttered:

“Fire that guy.”


Kevin Harlan's Best Fun Calls

Now, Kevin Harlan is a well-known pro — announcing basketball, football, and probably other sports on both TV and radio.

He's known to have fun calling weird situations, like a CAT running onto a football field.

And his overly dramatic call of a human fan on the field.

And another.

Those clips can be viewed (and heard) on YouTube. The NFL won't allow them to be embedded here. No Fun League, indeed.


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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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