Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reffin' Ain't Easy

I can't tell you how many tweets I'm still seeing on how "terrible" the officiating was last weekend during Week 1 of the NFL season. With the Packers playing the Bears tonight, it could only be invigorated. For those who are completely out of the loop, the NFL referees are actually victims of a lockout right now, and the NFL currently has what I like to call "rent-a-refs" in their place until at least Week 5 of the season.

What worries me is that stuff like this is going to go on through Week 5. Why? People feel like these "replacements" are not qualified for this job. Even the players may agree with this statement. Just watching some of the games last week gave me a scratched up scalp wondering why there were so many lousy and missed calls. Guys like Aaron Rodgers are even saying that the games were frustrating to play because even some of the obvious calls were missed. This call below was one of the ones that have been heavily disputed on by analysts and citizen journalists alike. This was originally a holding call but was overturned, resulting in a Green Bay punt return touchdown.
Credit to NFL and FOX Sports

Another issue is that people are just going to get angrier and angrier. If these "rent-a-refs" don't clean up their act this upcoming weekend, the credibility of the league could be slightly lower than usual after the following games. Sure, Roger Goodell is praising the referees, but at the same time, he's not shelling out $16 million for these replacements. This is the major issue that I wanted to get to in this post. This whole lockout could ultimately lead to a changing of the guard. Yes, it's rather plausible. I could pull out two real-world examples and what I said could actually make sense. These examples were "strikes," per se, but these arguments are for the same reason: money and working conditions.

A lot of you may already be familiar with the ongoing strike with the teachers in Chicago. A lot of the teachers have salaries spiking over $70k a year. They want more and they are being refused more. Because of their refusal, they are on strike, keeping 700,000 children out of school for the time being. If these teachers don't come back, these kids will be in school for a rather long time. If the NFL is not on track with these replacement refs and a deal isn't made in time, the season could definitely in a bind, and the players could be suffering a lockout of their own.

However, this could get a little more extreme. Here's my other example:

Back in 1981, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) went on strike requesting better pay, better working conditions, and alterations in working hours. In their absence, replacements were hired to continue the air traffic control in the United States (because truthfully, these guys are extremely important and must be around for pilots and planes). Then because of this crazy strike, Ronald Reagan wouldn't have this anymore and whipped out a...
...and wound up firing all of the workers on strike and just hired the replacements and other qualified workers. Also, these fired patrons were banned from coming back (this was later lifted and some workers came back five years later). Sick, right?

This could be a large application as to what could happen in the NFL. If a truce isn't made or a deal isn't reached, these veteran referees could ultimately be given the pink slip and told to try again later. These replacements could actually be given the job, and after a few years, the other refs could have a chance to come back and redeem themselves, despite the possibility of competing for a smaller salary than they once had. This could be pretty extreme, but it's possible, and dumber things are currently happening in the world of sports. (More on that in the end.)


There's the saying that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," but in a case like this, the recession is tough, and sometimes the referees may actually make a little bit too much money even though the game is placed in their hands to some extent. Don't let the other stuff that they do outside of football fool you, there's that one muscly ref (the name escapes me at the moment) who actually does law in the offseason and works out afterward. They may take up additional hobbies that keep them occupied during the offseason and might not necessarily do it for money. However, there are other guys out there that would kill to do their jobs in the time being and be paid for significantly less than what the actual guys are being offered.

Technically, the referees only work six full months out of the year and make a pretty hefty sum in about 25 weeks time. This is why it's a massive problem for the big guys in the NFL front office aren't the biggest fans in pumping up their salary. They're not in constant strenuous activity as the football players themselves, and there really isn't a time limit on how long they can stay in the business. From the way things are looking, the front office either wants some change or they want to make a statement in keeping the referees in place. It's looking rather ugly from this end, seeing that there is no mention of a deal being made anywhere.

In my opinion, there has to be some middle ground made, as well as some sort of policy for these guys when it comes to compensation.  Don't get me wrong, I'd kill for a $200,000 salary for working only six months, but any more than that to me would be highway robbery. I don't exactly know what these guys want out of life, but salary shouldn't be fought over. That's just me.

Football fans, start praying for some right calls and no more lockouts.


Speaking of lockouts...there's another disgusting-looking one that could possibly happen this Sunday.
Check back around then for the latest installment: TOO MANY LOCKOUTS! WHEEEEE!

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