The instances where a major American sport is forced to field replacement referees instead of regular, full-time referees come few and far between.
Unfortunately, the 2012 National Football League season is one of those instances.
After intensive labor negotiations, the NFL locked out its regular referees prior to the season because the two parties couldn’t come to an agreement.
For those who aren’t up to date with the situation, the locked out referees are lobbying for about $25,000 more per referee per season. The NFL, although it is a multi-billion dollar industry and the perfect sports business model, has unrelentingly refused to budge on the proposed pay increase.
All of this is a greed-driven farce that has caused the product of play to decrease thanks to countless questionable calls by men who were refereeing high school cames one month ago. Of course, it isn’t their fault, as it is a difficult task for a high school referee to step into the limelight with millions of people watching and make a call that is going to upset some fans.
It no longer matters whose fault it is. What matters is that the safety of the players is being jeopardized by employing officials who don’t know how to control professional athletes or make accurate calls.
The NFL Players Association isn’t happy with the referee lockout either, and rightfully so. In a recent letter to the NFL (via Fox Sports), the NFLPA offered its take on the situation:
“Your decision to lock out officials with more than 1,500 years of collective NFL experience has led to a deterioration of order, safety and integrity. This affirmative decision has not only resulted in poor calls, missed calls and bad game management, but the combination of those deficiencies will only continue to jeopardize player health and safety and the integrity of the game that has taken decades to build.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out which side the NFLPA is on. The players want the regular officials to return immediately. If no action is taken, don’t be surprised if the players take drastic measures and refuse to take the field until an agreement is reached (a possibility that NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith did not ruled out less than a month ago).
The current state of the NFL is fragile, and game quality will continue to deteriorate at a rapid pace unless NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can swallow his pride and fork over the extra cash for his employees who are vital to the game’s integrity and definitely deserve a raise.