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The National Football League's lockout of its officials continues, with the regular season rapidly approaching. Scab officials continue drawing poor reviews in preseason play; after Saturday night's game, for instance, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was not happy, talking about "some crazy, wild calls" despite league instructions to teams and coaches not to talk about the officiating. columnist Ashley Fox writes:

The NFL is a $9 billion industry and growing. It can't have unqualified, inexperienced officials making calls that affect the outcomes of games. It can't have men, and a woman, who have never worked an NFL game step in and help legislate player safety, supposedly one of the league's most important initiatives. It is lunacy. It will affect the integrity of the game. It already has.
But the NFL is saying it's prepared, even expecting, to go into the regular season with scab referees.

The pay scales for NFL officials are higher than when nursing home aides or factory workers are locked out, of course. But some of the issues are strikingly similar: At the top of that list, referees are one more group of workers whose bosses want to end their defined benefit pension and replace it with a 401(k). Remember that this is a league that locked out its players last year. Football is enormously profitable, but the team owners are looking at every group of workers, trying to force major concessions. The officials, who are part-time workers, have found themselves working more and more to keep up with the game. Now the NFL wants some of them to be full time, and to add more part-time refs—but the league's compensation offers aren't keeping up with the officials it wants to add.

It's time for the NFL to end this lockout. The league and its billionaire owners can afford to pay for experienced officials. Players deserve to have their safety on the field protected by those same experienced officials. And everyone who cares about football deserves games with a minimum of blown calls.

Tell Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL's owners to end the use of scab referees and negotiate a fair contract to bring back experienced officials.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:15 AM PDT.

Also republished by The Wide World of Sports.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Republished to DKos Wide World of Sports (7+ / 0-)

    Blown calls can lead to players dispensing "justice" on their own, which won't help matters one bit if it increases the rate of injuries, fines, and suspensions.

    Good officiating is a crucial element of football, for the players, the owners, the fans, and the future of the game.

    Some drink deeply from the river of knowledge. Others only gargle. -- Woody Allen

    by cassandracarolina on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:20:47 AM PDT

  •  The only concession that owners should ask for (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    imo, given that they're not real far apart on money, is that the refs give up their day jobs if they want to keep the defined benefit pension. If you're going to make bunches of money and be guaranteed in retirement, time to make sure that's the only thing you're focused on as far as work goes.

    vigilant COYB - Who are ya Van Persie?

    by GoGoGoEverton on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:21:43 AM PDT

  •  Harbaugh brothers will be thrilled (0+ / 0-)

    They just love rookie refs.

    i just baptized andrew breitbart into the church of islam, planned parenthood, the girl scouts and three teachers unions. - @blainecapatch

    by bobinson on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:28:00 AM PDT

  •  Having seen the scabs in action (6+ / 0-)

    the NFL needs to pull their heads out of their asses and bring back the real crews. The scabs SUCK! Every announcing crew that I've heard has denounced them as bad. The ESPN afternoon shows denounce them. The NFL is now getting close to ruining the product on the field with these clowns.

    The NFL needs to understand they aren't all powerful and bring back the real refs.

    The Spice must Flow!

    by Texdude50 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:29:16 AM PDT

    •  As important as the product are the players... (5+ / 0-)

      ... in the games I've watched with the scabs, I've noticed many helmet to helmet hits which have not been called.  The same thing with issues along the line of scrimmage, where offensive linemen are not being called for penalties designed to protect defensive linemen from injury.  The NFL needs to bring back the regular refs to make sure that no one gets injured because the scabs can't keep up with the speed of the game.

      I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

      by Hey338Too on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:46:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes (4+ / 0-)

        frustration is going to mount. I saw many pass-interference plays that weren't called. Like pulling on jerseys and hook arms that were ingored. That kind of thing starts fights after awhile.

        And just wait for teh first game to won/lost on a bad call and it have playoff implications.

        The Spice must Flow!

        by Texdude50 on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:00:23 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you saw the Saints - Jags game on Friday... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ... it was pathetic.  There were pass interference calls made where the db and wr weren't within 2 yards of each other.  Blown calls all over the place (on both teams).  And the game took over 3:45 to complete.  The head ref was under the hood of the replay booth so many times for so long we figured he was eating a po' boy and watching Real Time with Bill Maher (well I was the only one thinking that - but you get the drift).

          I haven't been here long enough to be considered a Kossack, does that mean that I'm just a sack?

          by Hey338Too on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:37:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  As John Eisenberg pointed out in an article (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          on the Raven's website, the league is so well-balanced that a single loss due to a blown call can make the difference between making the playoffs or not.

          Another consideration is the integrity of the replacement refs.  Given that they know this is just a temp gig there might be a bit more temptation to accept payment for biased officiating.  There will almost certainly be corrupt big-money gamblers who see this as an opportunity.  After all, they're inexperienced refs, making mistakes is expected of them.  Why not take advantage of that to scam some money?

          Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

          by kbman on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 11:49:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm surprised they even have a (3+ / 0-)

    defined benefit pension.  NFL officials essentially just do that job on weekends for 16 weeks a year (along with any off-season training) and are definitely part time, and they all have, or can have, other full-time jobs.  Many of them who have come to New Orleans to officiate Saints games have very good jobs during the week -- we've come across doctors and lawyers who work as NFL officials on weekends.  They essentially fly to whatever city on Saturday (or the day before a game) and return home Sunday evening, or ASAP after the game ends.  I'm kind of surprised there would be a significant defined benefits pension associated with what is presently a part-time job.

    That said, the officiating at the Saints pre-season games has basically sucked big time and I hope they get this resolved.  

    •  Not so part-time these days, (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cassandracarolina, kbman, Mostel26

      as the officials are expected to keep up with new rules and do a whole lot of prep work, and as there are more games spread through the week and even occasional overseas games. It's not like they just show up for the game then go home.

    •  And one of the sticking points (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is that the NFL wants to bring in some full-time officials, which could affect the jobs of those already on the field. The league also wants to increase flexibility so they can replace ineffective or just plain bad officials, which the current ones rightly see as a threat to their jobs. But one of the biggest complaints about the NFL has been the lack of full-time officials, and I think there needs to be some give on the union's side on this matter.

      Haven't really watched any pre-season NFL -- I'm still in baseball mode especially with my SF Giants in the thick of the pennant race -- but hope they can come to a resolution soon.

      "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now" -- Rev. William Barber, NAACP

      by Cali Scribe on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:02:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  These "part-time" officials... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kbman, cassandracarolina, Mostel26

      ...put in 35-40 hours a week watching game film and prepping for Sunday's game.

      "Republicans only care about the rich" - My late Father (-8.25, -7.85)

      by Mark E Andersen on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:41:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  16 weekends? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      WAY off.  4 weeks preseason, 17 weeks regular season, (refs don't get a bye week), 4 weeks of playoffs.  Now not all refs officiate in the playoffs, fewer in the final rounds, but for some refs this adds up to a half year.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 12:03:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Part time? Maybe. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26, Tinfoil Hat

      But you're talking about what, six officials at each game and something like 14 games a week, so it's fewer than a hundred and they are the best people in the world at calling American Football games.

      Why the hell shouldn't they get great pay and benefits? So what if it's technically part-time work? They're the absolute best at what they do.

  •  And Does (0+ / 0-)

    It really matter that the season open with so-called "scab" officials ? Maybe the players association will boycott the season in protest to the officiating. I say let both sides suffer the financial calamity that will occur with no season.

    I am sure if you poll all of the NFL owners that they will undoubtedly be Republican, and therefore are all for union busting as their counterparts in business and politics are trying to accomplish.

    Too many other important issues to consider to be concerned about over-payed athletes and wealthy owners.

    •  Let's not forget those who have (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      no say, yet will be drastically impacted financially if there's no season: the ticket takers, the ushers, the parking attendants, the concessionaires -- many of whom rely on that in-season income to bring in extra money.

      And not every NFL or sports owner is a Republican; the Rooney family were strong supporters of Obama in the 2008 election IIRC, and I'm sure there are others out there as well.

      "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now" -- Rev. William Barber, NAACP

      by Cali Scribe on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:05:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  But they're good? (0+ / 0-)

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:58:16 AM PDT

  •  what will be worse? (0+ / 0-)

    replacements with a preseason under their belts, or regular refs with no preseason tossed into the season.

    Lets face it, Neither option is great,  Secondly these replacement refs will be fine with some more time.  All scoring plays are automatically reviewed.

    I'm just saying, there are plenty of humans capable of refing an NFL game.  

    As far as the Labor debate, both sides seem to have legitimate concerns and points here.  They should of worked it out awhile ago.

    Bad is never good until worse happens

    by dark daze on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:05:34 AM PDT

    •  Having seen the controversies over officiating (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      in the past, and having referenced the rule book and case book to better understand these calls, I can pretty well assure you that 4 preseason games is no substitute for the experience, knowledge, and skills of discernment that the regular refs bring to the game.

      I think this is one of those cases where, the more you know about something the more you realize how little you actually know.

      Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

      by kbman on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 12:08:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have never crossed a picket line (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and was on the players side in both the NBA and NFL strike...and like all Saints fans thing Roger Goodell is a power hungry hypocrite willing to contort himself into impossible positions to get what he wants...and with that I still will go to games through a refs picket line.

    The refs position is absurd. Their union is against bringing in 8 full time employees to add to training and overseeing mistakes. If they choose to be unaccountable, I can not support them. Im a business owner and an employee, and accountability is what leads to quality. I read the claims that refs work 35 hours a week outside work, but if you look at the caseloads of the lawyers, doctors, and teachers who ref as second jobs, frankly, they are full of it. There's not that many hours in a week.

    Full time with fair compensation and accountability. But that requires sense from both sides, meaning it will never happen.

    Too bad money and the spotlight makes everyone stupid.

  •  I laugh when equate these so called unions (0+ / 0-)

    with real unions. They are unions in name only.

    If the players union was a real union they would not have crossed the picket line in the preseason games.

    Same with the unions of the television networks.

    Case closed

    "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

    by Farkletoo on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 10:10:23 AM PDT

    •  Not so simple. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Farkletoo, Mostel26

      One of the ways union contracts have been chipped away at is that far fewer of them have it written into their contracts that they don't have to cross picket lines. It's not just the players etc who that's true of. And for that matter, DeMaurice Smith has said they will look at their options.

      In general it's true that sports unions aren't very uniony at all. But leading up to and since their lockout, the NFLPA has been a standout on this front, with members and union officials speaking out on a range of labor struggles, showing up at rallies and voter registration drives, and more. So while you always want to see more, they have to get some credit here.

      •  I agree it is not simple but actions speak louder (0+ / 0-)

        than their words. Which players have spoke up about the Ref's situation as far as the union aspect of it?

        Same with the unions associated with the t.v. networks? Shouldn't these folks be considered scabs also?

        Regardless, I appreciate your pov on this.


        "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room." - President Merkin Muffley

        by Farkletoo on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 04:39:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, look, it would be great (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          if they did, and certainly some players have spoken out about this situation, and I'd love to see more of them do so. I'm just saying, it's unfortunately not a problem restricted to sports unions at this point in time, and that's less a failure of individual unions than yet another sign of how far corporations have pushed their war on unions.

  •  Unions don't even support other unions... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Auto Workers don't support the Steel Workers.  The Teachers unions don't support other unions in their own communities.  The NFL players union will not support the Ref's union.

    I really believe one of the major reasons private sector unions aren't getting the full support of a state is because most public sector workers don't see any support from their private sector brethern.  

    Obviously, these are general statements and not reflective of individuals, but it is an opinion I see and hear all the time (and I live in a very unionized part of the country)

    We have become a selfish nation that only worries about ourselves. We have allowed ourselves to be pitted against ourselves.  Watch as the promise of fracking jobs continue to be used to force the support of this process.  Enviromental concerns will lose out, and politicans will never stand in the way if it looks like they could lose votes.  

    Even politicans only show support when they believe it will garner votes.

    While I could be wrong, the days of the large strikes with the full support of the country or even communities are disappearing.  Even the Wisconsin protests were mostly made up of private sector workers and their families.

    It's sad, but the Republicans, their policies that Democrats refused to stop and an apathic country have completely gutted the strength of the Union.  


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