Roger Goodell Replacement ref justification is replacement-level stupidity

By John Gorman

Roger Goodell seems to believe replacement refs in this regular season will improve officiating over time.

His direct quote, via an ESPN report:

“We’re anxious to get a deal done, but it has to get done that it’s going to help us for the long term,” Goodell said at a fantasy football event in Times Square. “It’s not a short-term issue.”

“Then it’s based on performance, which is what fans all want, players all want, coaches all want,” he said.

“We have controversial calls. Officiating is an imperfect science,” he said. “They’re not going to be correct all the time, but we have systems in place to try to help. We have instant replay, as an example, to try to help correct those mistakes. … It’s like any game. We get calls every Monday from fans, from coaches, from teams upset about a particular call. That happens. And it will happen going forward regardless of who’s on the field.”

Roger Goodell doesn’t appear to exist in a logical realm grounded in earthly principles:

1. “Long-term” isn’t the length of time in which officiating excellence is judged. Officiating only matters for the duration of one play, many times over, in one game. Several bad calls in one game can cost a team a win. Several bad calls over the course of a season can cost a team … well … what? That answer’s less clear. Several bad calls over the career of a ref? Well … it’s like a pitcher “scattering” seven hits in a complete-game shutout. No harm, no foul.

2. Creating a larger pool of refs and paying them less won’t ensure better officiating. People like to feel properly compensated for their efforts. It’s why so many Gen-Y workers feel undervalued while their Gen-X and Boomer bosses and check-signers call them “entitled.” If wages decrease relative to the volume of work and the cost of living, a mindset begins to creep in that the wage-earner is stuck on an invisible treadmill with no elevation: eventually, climbing to the top seems less and less like a reality, and therefore less and less like a worthwhile endeavor.

3. Officiating IS imperfect. You’re right. But that’s why we have the benefit of replay. Because in the event that we can get something right, all we have to do is look at the tape. Of course some calls will be wrong but that doesn’t mean we can’t still attempt to get as many right as possible. Having REAL refs calling real games is one way to mitigate that risk. So is deferring to technology.

Roger Goodell needs to stop putting up rhetorical smoke-screens and call this what it really is, the NFL’s attempt to monopolize the time and manipulate the wage of their most thankless employees. Of course, that doesn’t play well with the press, so I doubt we’ll hear that.

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