NFL replacement refs are marketing gold

Heard an announcer on the radio on the way in to work chirping about how the NFL as a $9 billion a year industry cannot afford to run with part-time employees that are barely good enough at their jobs at best, and extremely lacking at their worst.

He was, of course, speaking about the replacement referees that have received criticism, especially after the blown call that ended the Seattle SeahawksGreen Bay Packers game Monday night.

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was kiddingly credited with having thrown his first game winning interception as time expired on the clock.

The NFL is very much a big business, very much like a corporation that outsources jobs.

The NFL is outsourcing their referees.

Everyone is outraged and crying how badly we need the regular referees to come back.

Some have said the NFL players should strike as a protest to get the regular referees back on the job.

I believe the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) the players agreed to precludes their ability to strike for any reason. I may be wrong, but that is what I think is the case.

The league is trying to wrest control from old guard refs in that they want to be able to have more sway when it comes to removing underperforming officials on a weekly basis.

This is all very much like what occurs at a multi-national conglomerate who outsources and offshores.

Oftentimes the quality of the workers are not the best—they are paid less, yet they are oftentimes considered good enough with the potential for improvement, when it comes to their job duties.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners are running the league like a Fortune 500 company.

They want to make game officials dependent on 401K funds instead of traditional pensions that guarantee a certain amount of money to those retired referees.

They want a pool of what I call “contract” refs who can be plugged in to replace underperforming officials.

This is all great drama and entertainment, too.

I think TV ratings are even up while this labor dispute is going on.

The refs may not be the only reason for this.

But, the referee saga is becoming a sidebar of its own during this NFL season.

Hardcore fans (and players) are outraged over the number of blown calls.

They forget the old refs would miss a few in their time, too.

People like entertainment and many could care less about the “integrity” of the game.

The possibility of missed or blown calls has become a new entertainment angle for the NFL.

The NFL is ultimately a Sunday, Monday and Thursday night distraction to begin with.

Like any profit-making machine or corporation, every last cent that can be wrung from the infrastructure that supports it, will be.

If they can get the replacement referees to improve—and it only stands to reason the longer they are in place the more they will improve–the longer this labor disagreement between the old refs and the league continues, the longer the whole thing plays to the owners’ and commissioner’s favor.

It may end up like the ugly grocery union worker wars of recent times when workers went on strike, only to agree to concessions too late and find their old jobs were filled by replacement workers.

You say this can’t happen?

Why not?

It happens in big business all the time.

Workers are always conceding things and settling for less pay and benefits in order to maintain their jobs.

At the end of the day, though, agreeing to take less because you finally get the (rightfully so) object of employers is to get the best worker at the lowest rate of pay in order to maximize profit, may be a case of too little too late.

The world has bigger problems than the comedy of errors by replacement refs that have dominated this month of September football games in the NFL.

We are helpless to change the world’s larger problems at hand.

But somehow we think if our dissenting voices over replacement referees are heard loud and clear by the league commissioner and owners, we somehow will be influential in the outcome of this labor struggle.

The fact is all of our crying, tweeting and twitting changes nothing; we don’t have that kind of power and influence.

But that doesn’t make it any less entertaining and fun to try.

And that is what a good distraction is all about.



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