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Deep Thoughts on The State of Officiating in Professional Sports

Sep 25, 2012, 8:53 AM EST

Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks Getty Images

I dare not wade into the intricacies of the National Football League because I am mostly ignorant of them.  But, I offer two Deep Thoughts:

1. If the Major League umpires are storing up some really, really bad call — like a Galarraga-Joyce-esque call — now would be an awesome time for them to make it, because I don’t think anyone would notice; and

2. Based on past comments, I’d guess the union/anti-union sentiment around these parts runs about 75-25% anti-union. And that may be a generous assessment of the size of the pro-union contingent.  With that in mind: does anyone in that anti-union majority care to defend Roger Goodell’s hard line against the regular NFL referees this morning? Remember: they’re not on strike. They’re being locked out because the most successful league in professional sports decided that they’d prefer not to negotiate a pension issue that represents almost inconsequential money to the league, relatively speaking.

Yes, I know this isn’t baseball. But my ability to ignore everything that goes on in other sports is only so great.  And it’s worth noting that what most of us consider the most egregiously bad call in recent baseball history didn’t even decide the outcome of a single baseball game, let alone over 6% of the outcomes of two teams for an entire season like that doozy last night did.

106 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Innocent Bystander - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:00 AM

    Hmmm…what is this “football” you speak of?

    • kiwicricket - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM

      It’s pronounced ‘foosball’, and Mammmaama told you not to play it.

      • nbjays - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:06 PM

        Actually, I like George Will’s definition best: “Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings”

    • Alex K - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:16 AM

      I don’t understand why those men in helmets are hugging and the guys in striped shirts are trying to block the crowd from seeing it. Whatever football is seems very strange.

      • blacksables - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:10 AM

        The two guys in helmets are obviously expressing their love for each other while engaging in safe sex.

        The guys in stripes in obvioulsy homophobic and are trying to keep the crowd from seeing it.

        That is the correct party-line here, isn’t it?

    • townballblog - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:29 AM

      It’s not “football,” it’s actually “soccer.”

  2. pjmitch - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    I’m not a football fan like I am a baseball fan by any means, but I did watch that game last night and it was by far the worst officiating I have ever seen. As one example of many, there was one pass interference call made on the defender, Woodson of the Packers that was unbelievably backwards and should have been called on the Seahawk reciever who literally had his arms around Woodson.

    Jon Gruden was going nuts trying to contain himself…..

    • e5again - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      So how many games this year have been the worst officiated game one has ever seen? I’ve heard this comment all 3 weeks so far. I’m just sick of hearing about the replacement refs. It’s become too big of a distraction.

      • cosanostra71 - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:20 PM

        So how many games this year have been the worst officiated game one has ever seen?

        The problem is they keep getting worse. You think you’ve seen the worse one yet, then poof, something like last night happens.

      • mgdsquiggy17 - Sep 25, 2012 at 8:37 PM

        you see the same exact terrible pass interference calls from the regular refs. Replacement or regular refs they are still going to make big mistakes. It happens in each and every sport and will continue to do so.

  3. Lukehart80 - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:07 AM

    Pro-union.

    (we’re voting, right?)

    • deadeyedesign23 - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:10 AM

      Seconded.

    • Marty - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:29 AM

      I don’t cry for most union members, and I especially dont for those who earn mid 6 figs.

      This is clearly and issue of who is best for the job, not who can collectively extort the most in contract talks. The locked out refs apparently possess an exclusive talent and should be paid as such.

  4. willclarkgameface - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    Roger Goodell is not the only person at fault here. The NFL owners are some of the greediest spoiled brats in all of professional sports. Most of these guys own their teams because they were self made men and worked very hard for the opportunity to own a franchise handed down to them from their daddies and these new ass holes haven’t worked a day in their lives.

    Fuck the NFL for this. I have a big chip on my shoulder about the popularity of that league to begin with. It’s all based around betting and fantasy. No one really cares about the actual game or else you’d have NFL stat geeks talking about it like we talk about baseball and that ain’t gonna happen any time soon, not like this. The only reason people are pissed -genuinely pissed – is because of all the money they have lost in betting and for that I have no compassion for you. Tough shit.

    MLB has its own issues and when this all blows up in my face and we have a botched call deciding the World Series…well, we’ll just have to re-investigate the idiocy of Buddy boy and his band of idiots.

    Today, he doesn’t look as much of a used car salesman shit stain as he normally does, but that’s only because of the NFL debacle, not because he’s doing a good job.

    Get it together Bud and do something big while the other league is on its knees. You won’t. I know you won’t and everyone else knows you won’t, but you know you can.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:14 AM

      NFL stat geeks talking about it like we talk about baseball and that ain’t gonna happen any time soon, not like this

      Agree with most of your post; however, there are sites like this. Footballoutsiders.com is one of them, and their Audibles at the Line column is a required read on Monday. It’s far better than NFL sycophant, Peter King’s, MMQB column.

      • danrizzle - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM

        Also, football with its highly limited sample sizes for analysis and impossibility of isolation of data just doesn’t admit of statistical interpretation to the extent that a sport like baseball does. So the fact that there are far more baseball stat nerds than football stat nerds reflects the sports themselves and not the fans of the sports. I don’t question the bona fides of real NFL fans (I’m a Giants fan myself).

      • cosanostra71 - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:11 PM

        agree with church 100%. There are stat geeks, but football is one of (if not the single) most played sports in America. I just looked it up and there were over 1 million interscholastic participants in football in 2010 (and that does not include youth leagues). A lot of people like myself grew up playing football and that is why it is so popular. I think that fantasy and betting adds to the popularity, but I don’t think that is the reason for it.

    • kevinbnyc - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      I’m pretty sure there are people who like the game as a form of entertainment, just like people like baseball for its entertainment value. And the game last night wasn’t entertaining due to the poor officiating.

    • savocabol1 - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:39 PM

      One question about your rant….are you assuming that MLB owners weren’t handed their teams either? Cause I’m pretty sure that your poster team is being run by daddys boy…just to mention one of em.

  5. succulentnipples - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    That women on sportsnation looked great in that green skirt yesterday.

    • kiwicricket - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:39 AM

      Advanced metrics points towards you being a pervert.

      • chadjones27 - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:34 AM

        I gave it thumbs down for not included a link

    • gostlcards5 - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:51 PM

      Charissa Thompson….amen, brother.

  6. randygnyc - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:12 AM

    Can’t fault anyone, even Goodell, for attempting to bust a union. He’s got my unflinching support.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:17 AM

      Why? I don’t get the idea of people hating unions for things like this. For one, as Craig mentioned, the NFL is shutting down the refs, the ref’s aren’t on strike like the Chicago Teachers Union. Two, in any collectively bargained association, you should realize that both sides have to agree on everything to reach a conclusion. Why do we keep seeing side A lock out side B, and people are against side B? The NFL wants to phase out the referee’s pension program AND cut their pay.

      What would you do if your employer wanted to do the same? It’s not like the NFL can’t afford it. The money involved is something like $3M TOTAL!

    • paperlions - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:50 AM

      If you hate unions and you work for a living, then you simply don’t understand that the existence of unions pulled up the standard of living of everyone that works, even if you weren’t part of a union.

      • blacksables - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM

        Tell that to the military, who by federal law are not allowed to unionize, while living in sub-standard housing making less than the national average for similiar work.

      • Marty - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:35 AM

        Tell that to the teacher who takes home less than the guy who mows the lawn. Union yes?

        There are positives to unionization, but in my region the unions (public, most of them) have benefited greatly from the rise in private sector wages.

      • chadjones27 - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:42 AM

        The guy who mows the lawn makes more than $40K/year?
        There is a union for the kids who work at supermarkets and collect shopping carts.
        What’s next? Starbucks gonna unionize?

    • chumthumper - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:56 AM

      This isn’t about union busting; it’s about very rich and arrogant men who want to pinch pennies to become even richer men.

    • thefalcon123 - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      America was so much better before the unions ruined everything. I mean, because of unions, I can’t send my 10 year old child to work in the coal mine for 90 hours a week (to be paid in credit to the coal mine owned store. This actually happened by the way).

      Or, how about the car wash workers in my neck of the woods (Queens) who just unionized. I mean, there they were, getting paid a generous $6.25 an hour (paid below minimum wage because of tips…that the owners did not allow them to keep), and now they’ve unionized. Why, before you know it, they will be making the federal minimum wage and the price of my car wash will go up by 25…maybe even 50 cents. Outrageous!

      No, America runs best when the rich and powerful have fully control your destiny. Now, please hand over your health insurance, forty hour workweek and any and all safety equipment you may be using. That shit ain’t free, you now?

      • Marty - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:40 AM

        That is somewhat of a history lesson. Working conditions and wage laws are now enforced by the many governments agencies charged with doing so.

        Sure, we should give veteran union activists a pat on the back. But today, reality that is, union rational is about perks.

      • thefalcon123 - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:57 AM

        Did you skip the paragraph about the car wash workers in Queens?

      • Marty - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:24 AM

        I think that is great that the car wash employees found a method to be made right. I’d suggest a call to the state and a lawyer would have resolved the issue in the same manner.

        But I should also consider that government staffing is so low in part because of unsustainable wages as bennies negotiated by public unions that they may have not been able to respond.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:50 AM

        “I mean, because of unions, I can’t send my 10 year old child to work in the coal mine for 90 hours a week (to be paid in credit to the coal mine owned store. This actually happened by the way).”
        You are absolutely on point Falcon. A lot of people don’t realize this is also where the term “rednecks” came from. The W. Virginia coal miners wore red handkerchiefs over there mouths. This was also a time when they all stayed on-site, shopped at the Coal Mine owners store (spending all of their hard earned money that week). Then…they were broke and were routinely forced to borrow from the Owner and pay it back with each weeks check. Of course…this was in the late 1800′s…early 1900′s. The Coal Miner had a monopoly and people had nowhere else to go for work. Now…we have a little thing called competition that keeps people/companies/corporations in check. If you don’t like your conditions…you can actually apply elsewhere. Of course…it helps if you are actually good at what you do, have a skill that is desired and (most importantly) don’t continue to bitch and whine while ultimately maintaining the status quo. Otherwise, the Union is there to allow you to maintain that status quo and continue bitching about how the Man is keep you down.

      • 18thstreet - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:56 AM

        I’m sorry to yell. No I’m not.

        ARE YOU UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT PEOPLE EARNING $6.25 A HOUR CAN AFFORD A LAWYER?

      • Marty - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:39 PM

        18thstreet,

        YES. SOMEBODY WAS SMART ENOUGH TO ORGANIZE A FUNCTIONING UNION, SO I AM ASSUMING THEY ARE SMART ENOUGH TO USE GOOGLE TO FIND THE APPROPRIATE AGENCY AND A LAWYER WHO WORKS LABOR CASES ON SETTLEMENT MONEY.

      • Marty - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        I’ll reiterate that unionization was a good choice for the workers. But it was in no way the only choice they had. That is why i take issue with those infatuated with the historical relevance of unions and imply that workers today depend on them for basic rights. That idea is fantasy, a legacy idea.

      • Marty - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:49 PM

        … and it’s pretty naive of you to assume a lawyer wasn’t needed to legally unionize.

    • cosanostra71 - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      I hate to say I’m pro or anti-union because I don’t hold a blanket position and like to assess based on the facts of the matter. I tend to side anti-union more often though I guess.

      I don’t think it’s fair to give the owners unflinching support here. I think what they are proposing has a lot of fair elements to it. I don’t think they are participating in negotiations in good faith though. And that bothers me.

    • mgdsquiggy17 - Sep 25, 2012 at 8:44 PM

      The NFL has my support but not because of attempting to bust a union. They have my support because the NFLRA refuses to budge on any of the topics. They just want more money, to stay part time and to not accept accountability. I’m pro union but it doesn’t mean I support them on everything. In this case I’m not with them. Agree to what the NFL is asking of you (They are in fact being offered more money and a pretty good pay raise at that.)

      The league has offered annual raises between five and 11 percent, pointing out that the average pay for NFL officials last season was $149,000. (Not bad for a hobby.) Under the NFL’s most recent (and perhaps final) proposal, the average official would earn $189,000 by 2018.

      First-year officials earned, on average, $78,000 in 2011. Under the NFL’s most recent (and perhaps final) proposal, the average first-year official from 2011 would be making $165,000 by 2018.

  7. koufaxmitzvah - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Without unions, our kids would be sent down into “clean” coal mines.

    • kiwicricket - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      I do pine the loss of children chimney sweeps, they did such a tremendous job. Can we not compromise?

    • skids003 - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:27 AM

      AT one time, unions served a purpose. But now, all they do is collect dues and keep sorry employees a job. With all the labor laws there are now, they don’t serve a useful purpose any more.

      • thefalcon123 - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:58 AM

        Have you been watching those Wal-Mart anti-union videos that make you watch during orientation?

      • yahmule - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:12 AM

        Many working class people in this country have been well brainwashed with conservative talking points.

      • mattraw - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:32 AM

        Like that rainforest scare a few years back! Our officials saw there was a problem and they took care of it, right?

      • 18thstreet - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:57 AM

        Those labor laws exist because of unions. If the unions disappear, so will those laws. This is not rocket science.

      • skids003 - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        Actually falcon and yahmule, I’m not a liberal drone, and I think I know what’s best for me. I don’t need you and a bunch of liberals telling me you know what’s best, because your policies have never worked and never will. Eventaully, you run out of my money to spend.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 25, 2012 at 12:03 PM

        Your stance isn’t popular skids but I agree wholeheartedly. When I first started my job at a local factory in my early 20′s…I had guys actually tell me to slow down because I was making the other guys look bad (AND I WAS STILL A PROBATIONARY EMPLOYEE!).
        Yeah…very productive. True story.
        Unions definitely served a very good purpose at one time (40+ – 50+) years ago. Now…competition guarantees companies stay in check…along w/ government regulations, OHSA, etc…
        But back to competition:
        My employees are skilled tradesmen (in an open shop). If I don’t treat them well…if they feel slighted…if they feel taken for granted…if they wake up on the wrong side of the bed w/ a hangover and decide to call it quits…they CAN and WILL go elsewhere.
        Why is this hard for people to understand. Competition is very much a good thing.

      • Gamera the Brave - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:54 PM

        skids,
        The problem with this argument is that you are right and wrong, and so are those on the other side of the issue. For every example of perk-grubbing, and anti-merit stories about Unions, there are examples of wage-saving, safety-promoting. I work in a Union shop, with smart, hard-working people, who frequently advance via merit – and with dumb, lazy jerks protected by Union contracts.

        But I understand that my position is far less interesting than defaulting to talking points at extreme ends of the political spectrum. Sorry, I’ll go back to reading Marx, followed by re-reading Atlas Shrugged.

  8. El Bravo - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Thanks Craig, now that this is baseball-related, I can put Roger Goodell on my Douchenozzle list…..aaannnd done.

    • number42is1 - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      updated list please (poor swish)

      • El Bravo - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:02 AM

        Unfortunately, I don’t have access. I really should keep that thing on a thumb drive with me at all times.

  9. yahmule - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Goodell has no power to end this thing as he’s merely a puppet for the owners. The amount of money it would take to settle this dispute is relatively tiny. The owners are out to break the union. They believe it will make them Scott Walkeresque heroes in their small circle of rich asshole friends. Utterly embarrassing games like last night won’t make any difference to them. The drastic reduction in safety as players push the limits under these inexperienced scabs will never cross their minds. The bottom line is they know fans will keep watching and attending games no matter how badly the game is impacted.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:21 AM

      The drastic reduction in safety as players push the limits under these inexperienced scabs will never cross their minds

      For the lawyer’s out there, is the NFL in any danger to a lawsuit for negligence if someone gets seriously hurt? By now, you’d think someone could make a compelling case that the refs aren’t stopping the dangerous/rough play.

      • yahmule - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:53 AM

        Raider WR Darius Heyward-Bey nearly got killed on a helmet to helmet hit on Sunday. A blatant infraction that any football fan could have called from 50 yards away. No flag.

      • kevinbnyc - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:07 AM

        The hit that “nearly killed” him wasn’t as bad as a lot of others. Watch any replay of anything James Harrison has done.

  10. kiwicricket - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:20 AM

    Do Joe West, Bob Davidson and Angel Hernandez have any Football experience? Perhaps Bud can lease them out?

    • El Bravo - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      Yes. This is the solution.

    • frenchysplatediscipline - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:52 AM

      Kiwi – this is my vote for Comment Of The Day!

      Of course it would have gotten my vote for Comment Of The Week had you also included C B Bucknor.

    • moogro - Sep 25, 2012 at 12:19 PM

      They wouldn’t do it. They might have to run a bit.

    • indaburg - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      I would actually watch football just to see Joe West run up and down the field. Apparently, football experience isn’t even required to referee a game.

  11. kellyb9 - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    Although Roger Goodell makes Bud Selig look good. I think there was an added issue to the labor dispute in which officials could not be removed or reprimanded based on their performance. Baseball can apparently already do that.

    • chadjones27 - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:29 AM

      A couple years back, a football ref pulled a player off a scrum, wrapping his arm around the player’s neck and threw him back. That ref was suspended and docked a game check, around $8000. So, yes, the NFL can take action against the refs.

    • paperlions - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:52 AM

      The NFL does a much better job with their officials than MLB. The NFL reviews the quality of officiating every year, and if you don’t perform well, you are replaced.

      • Loose Changeup - Sep 25, 2012 at 12:15 PM

        I believe they can only be replaced at the end of the season, and the league wants to change that to be at any point in the season.

  12. randygnyc - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    Oh, btw, ultimately, last nights “debacle” was reviewed and upheld by non-replacement referees up in the booth. So, the final word came from the regulars, not the “scabs”.

    • chadjones27 - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:31 AM

      Isn’t the booth ref a replacement as well? (It’s an honest quesiton, not a snarky comment) And are the booth refs responisble for the other, at my last count, 60,543 bad calls this season? (That was a snarky comment)

      • paperlions - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:53 AM

        Nope, the booth guys are the regular booth guys….and the NFL has given them the ability to give advice to the Referee, who does have the final say. In this case, the booth guys did not advise the Ref to over turn the call…..so he didn’t.

    • hisgirlgotburrelled - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:54 AM

      Doesn’t matter. Dual possession is not reviewable.

      • hisgirlgotburrelled - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:35 AM

        I should say, I don’t think it is reviewable. I know what Florio said, but that’s his interpretation of the rule. He also states the play was reviewed so possession had to have been reviewable, yet every single scoring play is reviewed no matter the circumstances. The rule doesn’t specify simultaneous possession, but if you say ‘that means it is reviewable’ you can just as easily say ‘it isn’t specified, so it is not reviewable.’

      • chadjones27 - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:37 AM

        No, but all touchdowns are reviewable. The calling on the field was a touchdown. There was clearly enough evidence on the field to overturn that call. Bad, bad mistake by everyone involved.

      • kopy - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:40 AM

        According to Peter King’s column this morning, and he got input from refs/rulebook, simultaneous possession is reviewable in the endzone. They botched an opportunity to overturn it.

  13. natslady - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    The Sun Monster taketh and the Sun Monster giveth. I used to think the same about umps (that the bad calls would even out). The Nats are about 1-4 in games seriously affected by bad calls–including the one where the umps fell asleep and gave away a free run because the opposing manager asked for it, and yes, the Nats lost that game by 1 run.

    This is not a “whine.” It’s just that, other than who gets picked for the postseason games–on merit–there is no pubic accountability for umpires. Again, I’m not saying umpires should lose their jobs over one missed call. But how about, at the end of the season, rating the umpires and awarding bonuses for good performance?

    • ptfu - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      “there is no pubic accountability for umpires”

      You know, I never thought of it that way before. The umpires screw over anyone and everyone, including your Nats.

      Also, my day is ruined because I have now associated “pubic accountability” with Cowboy Joe West, Bob Davidson, Angel Hernandez, Laz Diaz, and the rest of the rascals. Must…think…happy…clean…thoughts…save…sanity…

      Okay sorry, I am not one to focus on typos but this one was too awesome to pass up. It graphically and memorably (shudder) reinforced your point.

      • natslady - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:57 AM

        LOL. Obviously, I didn’t notice the typo! Now, clean thoughts, right, clean thoughts…!

  14. pdowdy83 - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    All I can say is that I am glad a lot of the morons over on profootballtalk.com don’t post on these forums. I think they only came over for the Brandon Phillips/jared Hughes racism post a couple weeks ago.

    I went through some of the comments and they are all profanity laced and lacking any real insight or humor whatsoever. I’ll take baseball and this website’s whitty and humorous posts any day of the week over that.

    Oh and the NFL is getting what they deserve. Stop taking hard line stances and maybe you wouldn’t be dealing with another round of drama like the lockout last season.

    • moogro - Sep 25, 2012 at 12:22 PM

      We’re whitty because we give a whit.

  15. willclarkgameface - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    I believe the amount of money these dip shit owners are “risking” losing is about $60,000 per team.

    THAT’S IT.

    And you know what? The NFL owners DON’T GIVE A FUCK. People still go to games. Ratings are still up and even higher than before. So now what? If those numbers aren’t failing and the only people that are truly pissed about this are the gamblers, then whatever. They are going to save their pocket change and laugh all the way home, laughing at the fans, the refs, and their own players.

    They don’t care. It’s really weak.

    Don’t go to games people. Hurt them where it counts, but I’m sure all the games in the good NFL cities are all sold out or close to it anyway. So hey NFL fans – keep hurting the team down there in Jacksonville where you haven’t had a sellout since like 1999. NICE WORK!

  16. randygnyc - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    The booth refs are not of the replacement variety. Take a peak at profootballtalks latest thread.

  17. voteforno6 - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    With as much money as is floating around the NFL (I’m not just talking about the money made by the league itself), you would think that the owners might realize that it’s not a good idea to nickle-and-dime the officials, who obviously have a significant impact on the outcome of games.

  18. hisgirlgotburrelled - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    MLB umpires I think are different. They make so many close calls I think it would be even worse.

    Refs are replaceable with enough time. 3 months was too short. Seriously poor planning by the NFL and I think this is going to work out for the refs in negotiations. The biggest issue with the refs is enforcing rules the wrong way and not knowing some others, or how to correct them. New refs could be trained with more time. It’s not like they’re players that possess talent and skills that can’t be replaced. Officiating had been getting worse. They deserve some more money because it’s been however many years since an increase and they want some refs to be full-time employees, but a few thousand dollars per crew per game is a little high for someone who is just as replaceable in their job as I am in mine.

    Inconsequential amount of money to the NFL does not matter. The refs didn’t make the NFL and even with bad refs the league will go on. They’d just ask for another raise in a few years and you’d have to give it to them again. The last demand from the refs I saw was about $4,000 per crew per game (7-man crew). That’s a very substantial raise.

  19. danaking - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    Let’s turn this around a little. Once any entity (say, a company or sports league) agrees to consider another entity (a union) the official bargaining unit for it employees, both sides have implicitly agreed to recognize the other as the sole counter negotiator. Even when a collective bargaining agreement expires, there is an ethical responsibility to continue that level of the agreement so negotiations can continue to reach a new agreement.

    For the sake of argument, let’s assume there is another football league in relatively viable competition with the NFL. What would be the NFL’s reaction if, as the CBA with the refs expired, the union had decided to move all its members to a rival league that was willing to pay what they wanted, and just refused to negotiate with the NFL? I expect the owners would scream bloody murder, claiming the union had an obligation to reach an agreement with the NFL and not merely replace one league for another.

    Yet they’re happy to lock out the officials and replace them en masse. I don’t see a huge difference here.

    Pro sports leagues (aside from baseball) are in union busting mode, and it’s hard to see why. The amount of money football is talking about wouldn’t pay a decent offensive lineman for a year. Hockey owners have preened for several years about how successful the league is, yet wants a draconian settlement from the players. (I wonder why no one has asked yet about the big contacts signed shortly before the lockout: Parise, Suter, Crosby. If the owners knew the league was about to ask for a salary rollback and did not disclose this to the players, were they negotiating in bad faith, knowing what the player thought was a $100 million contract would only be worth $76 million if the owners got their way?)

    • mcs7584 - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:06 AM

      Why? Because as George Carlin put it, “They want more for themselves and less for everybody else.” He wasn’t talking about NFL refs but it still applies.

  20. manchestermiracle - Sep 25, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    It should be obvious that the players are taking as much advantage as they can while the replacements are on the field. One reason so many penalties have been called is that the players are pushing the boundaries. Sure, lots of the calls have been wrong, but most of them have been accurate. The players know these guys are in over their heads, yet instead of trying to make the game simpler for them the players are looking for any weakness.

    • mazblast - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:12 AM

      it’s bad enough that the players are pushing it, but the coaches are doing it, too, and no doubt encouraging their players.

      Rarely do I find much good in soccer, but I’d love to see the officials be able to award yellow and red cards. Toss a few coaches and high-profile players, and perhaps the replacement refs can get back to merely being sucky.

  21. nategearhart - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    The only reason the owners would have to get rid of the replacements, is if the replacements cost them money. But people are still watching. Hell, I bet people will continue to watch no matter how bad the refs get, just to see how bad it CAN get. Same reason people watched Jersey Shore for so long: people love a train wreck.
    So there you go: NFL is the Jersey Shore of pro sports.

  22. Brian Donohue - Sep 25, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    I am…the 25%!!! Unions in labor, like democracy among political systems, represent a deeply flawed and vulnerable-to-corruption system that is nevertheless preferable to all known alternatives. I think I’m paraphrasing Churchill there. In the case of the NFL refs, it is a no-brainer of a choice: the pros with the experience, skill, and training to do the job properly are being locked out by an ideological blindness; there is no pragmatic calculation in it at all beyond that dull, trollish corporate idiocy that brought us the Great Recession.

  23. headbeeguy - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Though both sides of the political spectrum are trying to turn this into a pro-union/anti-union issue, I don’t really see this as the case. The owners thought that they had the leverage to make the officials’ employment terms more favorable to the owners, and the officials thought they had the leverage to prevent it. These disputes happen all the time with both union and non-union labor…it’s unfortunate that it has come to this, but both sides are looking out for their best interests.

    I fail to see how the performance of the scab officials is some sort of referendum on the general impact of unions. Put another way, I don’t think it’s incongruous to say both “I generally think that unions aren’t great for the economy” and “Holy God get the regular officials back right away.”

  24. mazblast - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    I’ve been watching less and less of the NFL in recent years due to the decline in quality of play, the constant showboating, the constant whining by coaches and players, the lack of consistency on the part of the REGULAR officials, and the execrable yammerings of the announcers, all of whom seem to be trying to out-McCarver the incredibly vile Tim McCarver.

    The replacement officials have made it even worse.

    I have other things I can do with my Sundays and my Monday nights, and I’m going to do them until the regular officials are back. I may find that I can do without the NFL altogether. It’s an individual choice, but if enough people make that choice, we will hit the NFL owners where it counts, in the wallet.

    Lockout? Boycott!

    • Alex K - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:23 AM

      I watched about 4 quarters of NFL football last year (only 1 of them was non Super Bowl). This year I am at a grand total of 0. Heck, I don’t even think I’ve watched 1 play of NFL this year. It’s wonderful.

    • chadjones27 - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:55 AM

      Boycott? They never work. People will watch. People will complain. Sports will still make money. Until the refs start running around Benny Hill-esque, people will keep watching.

  25. jimmyp70 - Sep 25, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    I’m pro-union, but in this situation I really see where the NFL is coming from. The refs want pensions. No other NFL employees get that, not even the full time ones. These guys want pensions that they put $0 into for their part time job. The NFL cut those out for all other full-time employees years ago, so I can’t say that the NFL is being unreasonable here.

    As for the “small change” argument, rich guys don’t get rich by giving away small change. If they give in here, what do they do next time? Next fight with the players? If it’s such small change, the refs can give it up for their part time job and come back, too. Two way street.

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