Pandemonium at the NFL
I don't watch football, but my Twitter feed is filled with tweets about a bad call during Monday night football that cost the Green Bay Packers the game against the Seattle Seahawks. Sounds like it might be the final straw, as the bad calls have become routine with this season's use of stand-in referees for the usual ones, who have been locked out in a labor dispute.
Everyone seems to agree the stand-in refs, who come from college and minor league teams are unqualified (I see lots of comparisons being made to substitute teachers).
This recap by an LA Times sports writer seems typical of the post-game ranting going on in MediaLand.
If I understand what happened correctly (and I probably don't, since the articles are all filled with game terms that are so completely foreign to me, I might as well be reading Greek) it boils down to this: It was the end of the game. Someone threw something called a "desperation pass" , which others call a Hail Mary Pass, to the end zone. The pass was caught by two people, one from each team. Many people thought the Packers' guy intercepted the pass, but when the refs came out, one called it a touchdown for Seattle. Another ref saw it differently and called it a "touchback", and there was a review. The review, which took 10 minutes, concluded the ref calling a touchdown for Seattle was right. Both teams were called back so Seattle could kick for the extra point. Seattle won the game. Even haters of Green Bay are saying Green Bay got robbed. [More..]
Here's the NFL Playbook and the operative section appears to be this:
"It is not a simultaneous catch if a player gains control first and an opponent subsequently gains joint control. If the ball is muffed after simultaneous touching by two such players, all the players of the passing team become eligible to catch the loose ball."
The bigger story is that this is the final straw for many, as the stand-in refs have been blowing calls for the past three weeks.
Everyone wants the regular refs back.
How do they do that? Unfortunately, I also know nothing about Labor Law. But I have a common sense answer: Pay the locked out refs what they want. The NFL can afford it. And the money they stand to lose if fans sit out a year has to be much more than what the refs are demanding.
Actually, if I were advising the locked-out refs (put aside that it would be complete malpractice given my less than zero comprehension of the game and labor law) I'd tell the locked out refs to double down on their demands now: their value seems to have just risen exponentially.
Who should pay the extra money the refs want? I'd say the team owners and high-level managers but not the players. Why? The absurd sums the players get are not out of line when you consider they can only play for a relatively short number of years, after which their bodies will start to fall apart from the concussions, joint damage, knee damage and brain damage. They will be massively out of shape and overweight once they stop practicing regularly. And other than the few who get sponsorship deals and commercials, they don't have great careers to go on to, meaning there won't be much money coming in. So the salaries they get now help cover them for their lifetime, since they gave their mental and bodily health up for the game.
The owners and high level managers have no such excuses. They just rake in the money, while they sit in big offices, take meetings, and on game days, sit in a warm sky box. They can do this for generations. Their brains aren't operating at 50% capacity like the former players.
Also, if football is indeed the "national pasttime" of this country, it's because of the players, not the owners. Sure, it takes a village to put on games, but the players are the star attraction.
So let the owners and high-level managers cough up the bucks and meet the regular ref's demands. If they don't, the owners may find themselves sitting at a box at an empty stadium, losing far more money than the refs were demanding.
It sounds to my admittedly unformed mind that the real problem here is greed at the top. Why should football be any different than any other corporate organization where the big honchos rake it in while those at the bottom get a raw deal?
I feel worse for the players than the fans. They are the ones who are dedicating their most productive years to the game while putting their future health at risk.
If the owners won't settle with the regular refs, they might consider doing away with all refs and settling the matter with a coin toss. At least they'd have a 50% chance of being right, which would be a better record of accuracy than the replacement refs.
Feel free to correct my interpretation, or disagree -- as I said, I'm really just writing this because I think people will want to discuss it.
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