Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Who will replace the replacements?

So everyone - even, now, the President, it seems - agrees that the NFL replacement officials are overmatched, out of their depth, not up to the task. Everyone is now calling for the return of the "real" referees. Fine. But they are in the midst of a labor dispute and are locked out by the league owners. You can't just order them back to work without settling the dispute, can you? There are real issues at stake. And these guys are not air traffic controllers. We can live without football.

I am watching the escalating behavior of players, coaches and the media with an increasing level of anger of my own. They are attacking, intimidating and belittling these replacement officials, on the field and in the media. And most people seem to think it's not only acceptable, but actually noble. Angry, indignant, even mournful tweets by 8-figure athletes are met with the ultimate approval statistic: massive re-tweeting.

My question is this: What would you have these replacement officials do? Quit? Get better overnight? Are there far superior replacement-replacement officials waiting in the wings? Will all this bullying and whining by million-dollar athletes and coaches end once they bring on the referees from the Lingerie Footbal League?

But I have a more serious beef with, well... everyone. Look: I am also a referee; an experienced, unpaid, youth soccer referee. I've been doing it for over a decade. And the amount of abuse I take at any given game is ridiculous. The fact that some coach or parent will turn up at their son or daughter's AYSO game, knowing less about the game then they'll ever admit, and proceed to abuse a volunteer referee for the duration of the game - it disgusts me. Go take a class, get yourself a whistle, and get out here and do it yourself.

With regards to the replacement NFL officials, please shut up, just a little. These guys might not be great. Some of them might be terrible. But what else would you have them do? You want them to quit, or be fired? OK fine. Just so long as you're willing to grab a whistle and get out there and do it yourself.