Due to a strike from the NFL referees, the NFL has been forced to bring in “replacement ref”. These men, and one women, range from a past of reffing division II games, to Arena Football games, to even Lingerine football games. But will this have an impact on the season? Read the debate below to find out.
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[one_half] By: Arif Hasan
So, when we want to discuss the impact of replacement officials, we’re better off determining whether or not they will change play.We know that replacement officials have already made a small impact—rumor mills have published at least one story a day since the lockout started. The replacements are changing how we look at the game and what questions reporters are asking.
The NFLRA, an admittedly biased grading source, published a list of mistakes from the Hall of Fame game. These mistakes are accurately pointed out and game-changing. As CBS’ Mike Freeman points out, while regular officials make these mistakes with some frequency, but replacement officials are incorrect much, much more often.
We know that officials already have some missteps, but the question whether or not replacement officials make unacceptably more. We’ve become so used to the excellent level of officiating in football that we take for granted that referees should be making the right decision nearly every time.
That is a standard we will not see the replacement officials meet.
The NFL game isn’t just faster and more complex, it’s different on several levels of magnitude from the play these referees are used to.
Most of the time, new officials from the BCS join an already established crew and occupy less important positions—generally side judges. They acclimate for a number of years before they become integrated in more important positions.
Now, we see officials from Division II, the Arena Football League, high school, or even the Lingerie Football League not only becoming side judges, but chiefing entire crews.
There are two impacts to poor officiating: 1) the best team might not win—inconsistent officiating is fundamentally unfair; 2) the risk of injury increases.
Both of these things are happening.
First, there are a number of calls that have affected field position, the scoreboard and timing. We have seen incorrect penalty enforcement, bafflingly incorrect touchback calls on punt returns and illegal motions being let go. Some of these mistakes are inexcusable.
We’ll see it all season long if the lockout continues. Not only will we notice touchdown calls made unfairly, we’ll see field position change, down-and-distance calls botched, and timing mistakes fundamentally affect strategy. Some teams will unfairly benefit from this inconsistency more than others and much more so than they would with professional officials.
The second impact could fundamentally change the future of the NFL. Player injuries have become a real problem for the NFL’s public image, and some have predicted that injuries could be the death of the NFL. This isn’t hyperbole. Economists agree. Replacement officials have already missed a number of helmet-to-helmet hits, hits below the knees, and facemasking calls to a much higher degree than professional referees have. These injuries could add up, and player concerns about the safety of the new officials could lead to even more lawsuits than before, especially because one of the NFL’s biggest casualty insurers just pulled out.
Given that the NFL has functionally admitted that the replacement referees are not doing their job correctly by instituting ad-hoc “refresher courses” it is evident that the league cannot replace 1500 years of experience with zero.
Mike Pereira, a former NFL vice president of officiating is correct when he points out that replacement officials harm the game and cannot do their jobs. The fact that the normally quiet Belichick agrees should give NFL supporters pause.
The NFL is playing with fire, and it’s going to get burned. [/one_half]
[one_half_last] By: Matt Goldstein
The replacement referees will never, I repeat never, officiate a game as well as the regular NFL ref. They will never have as much experience, knowledge and insight about the game of football as their counterparts do.
The replacement refs have, actually, made some atrocious calls throughout this preseason. They have missed countless pass-interference calls, an innumerable amount of holding penalties, and they have even declared a punt a touchback even though it landed on the four-yard-line.
When the NFL season finally rolls around, the replacement refs will have garnered more experience, but they will still not be on the same level as the regular refs that have been officiating the game of football of years and years. If the regular refs do remained locked out for the majority of the season, though, the quality of the replacement’s officiating will improve from week to week. The replacements have the same exact knowledge about the rules of football as the regular refs do, for them it is just a matter of being able to adjust to the speed and size of the NFL.
Many of the replacement refs have been calling Division-II and Division-III games for decades now, and it would be absolutely incorrect to say they do not know as much about football as the regular refs. Once again, when they do finally adjust to the pressure of officiating an NFL game, they will improve.
Now, let’s examine the question. How big an impact will the NFL replacement referees have on this season?
Despite their obvious inferior skills, the answer to that question, quite frankly, is no impact whatsoever.
The replacements will make poorly judged calls, and they will incorrectly throw a flag in certain situations. The thing is, though, they will be doing this for every team in every single game. How could they possibly give one team an advantage over another in a single game if they make the same horrible calls for both teams?
It is ignorant to even suggest that the replacements will make a major impact on the games that will be played throughout the season if the poor decisions they make affect every team in the same exact way. If the replacements throw to little flags during a game, or if they make too many bad calls, then it will both teams equally. They both will have to overcome the poor performance of the replacement refs in order to achieve victory. One team will not be singled out.
Also, it is quite possible the the real refs and the NFL will finally reconcile early on in the regular season. Though most NFL refs work a second job, due to the part-time nature of their job, they still make on average a lofty salary of between 42,295 and $120,998 per season. That’s a nice bonus for a second job. It is extremely probable that the real refs will give up their quibble with the NFL very early in the regular season in order to make the extra money that can allow them to give their families better lives.
Considering this, it would be severely difficult for the replacements to make a major, let alone noticeable, impact on the regular season if they are not even given a chance to officiate the majority of it.