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SBD/September 24, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies
Are Replacement Refs Affecting The NFL's Business Operations, Bottom Line?
Published September 24, 2012
REALLY A BIG DEAL? GRANTLAND’s Bill Simmons wrote the “biggest failures” have been the players. If the players are “as disenchanted about the officiating as they claim, then why not threaten to boycott games until the real officials come back?” They could say “it's a safety issue -- that they don't feel safe playing a violent sport when it's being overseen by incompetent officials.” But as long as ratings “aren't affected and players aren't getting needlessly hurt, is there really that much of a downside here for the NFL?” It is “hard to remember a sports commissioner needing a diversion more than [Roger] Goodell heading into the 2012 season, actually.” Unless one of his “signature players foils this little ruse by getting seriously injured … he probably pulled it off” (GRANTLAND.com, 9/21). In L.A., Sam Farmer wrote if “enough team owners complain -- or the most powerful ones -- the league will do what's necessary to bring back the regular officials.” Farmer: “This boulder won't be rolled away until the 32 bosses of Commissioner Roger Goodell insist it must be” (L.A. TIMES, 9/22).
LOCKOUT ACTUALLY GROWING THE GAME? ESPN's Bob Ley: ”The average locked-out regular NFL game official has already lost about $50,000 so far. That’s about a third of his annual officiating income. ... The substitute teacher analogy was officially recognized when the NFL peered into the classroom like a vice principal, sending all hands a memo this week mandating respect for the game. ... There is a growing, disturbing tone to the reaction. ... In a vacuum, the NFL is pushing for a smart business deal, trying to roll back pensions for part-time officials, in an economy where full-time private sector employees rarely have them. Perversely, all this chatter about sub-par officiating is growing interest in the game, this $10 billion industry. So, we have benign neglect, as not only art form, but an NFL financial strategy, and it’s working” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 9/23).