If your Facebook page looked anything like mine last night, chances are you heard a few people complain about the referees in last night’s game. If you’re a Packers fan, like I am, chances are there is something broken somewhere in the location you watched the game last night. For me, it’s my heart.
Fandom and bias aside, the referee situation in the NFL has reached a level where it has become intolerable to watch. The Sunday Night game between the Patriots and Ravens was only marginally better than the game last night. Fans can simply flip a coin to see how a call will turn out as even when the referees get aided by slow motion video replay, they still don’t seem to get the call right. I recommend reading here for some fan reactions to the games. Yet, this problem represents a lot more than angry fans, bad beats on bets, and issues with fantasy teams. It represents a corporation that has become so big and so popular that it can do whatever it wants. The NFL is, after all, a business. The referees are fighting to get what they view as a fair deal, which includes not losing their pensions but the NFL has no reason to budge because their popularity has become so high, they know people will continue to watch their games and buy tickets.
The NFL is such a huge part of our culture, it’s tough to find someone who doesn’t have an investment in fantasy football or have their Sunday blocked off on their schedule to watch football. So why would the NFL budge, they can put the bottom of the barrel of referees on the field, save millions of dollars, and as long as they ignore the outrage of the fans, there’s no downside to doing so. Roger Goodell and the rest of the NFL executives have no reason to budge while fans pour their hard earned money into an organization that only cares about the money, not the source it comes from or the people who risk their bodies to make it possible.
The commissioner has tried to make sure his legacy is the one who took on player safety and changed the entire nature of the game. Yet the addition of replacement refs has made the game much more unsafe as players feel they can get away with cheap shots, fighting, late hits, and interference. Goodell is on track to be remembered for changing the game by making it all about the income, ignoring player safety, game integrity, and the best interests of the players, coaches, and fans.
We are all supporting an organization that is run by a group that could not care less about the consumers, besides how much money is in their pocket. The players and coaches have already expressed their anger and were told the response would be fines for speaking out against the refs or penalties for arguing with them in the game. The only people who can now do anything about the situation is the people paying to watch the game. Fan can contact the league office using this information (I have not verified it is accurate). Maybe if fans threaten to stop watching the games or buying tickets, just maybe the league will stop putting on games which are an embarrassment to the game representing an inferior product. In the business world, if a product has less quality, the price will decrease but cost of being an NFL fan has not changed. Take a stand against a business which has become so powerful it has no need to care about its own market.