The mark of any successful business endeavor is the integrity of its product. The National Football League has developed into one of the richest businesses in our country. Even when they took an entire off-season off, jerseys still sold, season tickets were still purchased and the Sunday Ticket was still subscribed to; all the while the league was locked out.
The NFL has been expertly marketed over the past decade and has lapped the other professional sports in America. But we now have a very serious issue on our hands. Officiating. To keep our interest, the rules must be properly enforced. When rules are not properly enforced, it causes people to take advantage. This increases the risk for injury as well as inaccurate portrayals of the competition that is being carried out on the field.
If you have caught any of the preseason games, there has been a definite degradation in officiating. I am not blaming those who were tasked as replacement officials. Many of them come from mid-major and smaller conferences in college football. Nothing in this world has prepared them for the speed and athleticism on display in the NFL. Likewise, many seem intimidated by the big stage to throw flags and seem unsure of themselves when flags are thrown.
It is to be expected with the experience level of the guys (and girl) we have calling games now. Imagine the amount of game experience lost without the regular officials. We are now inserting a group of officials with zero games of NFL experience.
We must be careful though, normal officials make mistakes too. And some of the mistakes these crews are missing are the same ones the regular ones do. We may just feel more inclined to blame it on their inexperience now, rather than the fact that they are blind.
It is imperative that the NFL gets this labor dispute with the Officials rectified. They are now talking about utilizing replacement refs into the regular season. This CANNOT be an option. The greatest thing to happen to the labor dispute for the officials is the performance of the “replacements.” I personally can’t imagine Sunday without Ed Hochuli busting out of his shirt or Mike Carey’s swooping over exerting motion towards the penalized team.
The outcry from the fans is only going to get worse. And for once, we may feel vindicated by “blaming the refs.” I for one, do my best not to put blame on officials in any sport. I understand how fast everything is moving and how difficult it can be to do their job. But there are calls being made out there that are preposterous, and for the first time in the history of fandom you won’t be looked down on for “blaming the refs.”
This is the NFL, only the best should be allowed to participate. I’m not asking the NFL to give in completely. The NFL is where it is today because of sound financial decisions and expert marketing. But an inadequate group of officials could seriously detriment the integrity of this great game.