I had to smile when I saw USA Today’s National Football League page this morning. No less than three of the top headlines (here, here and here) introduced rants against the bad officiating of the replacement referees, and most of the rest of the stories took at least a sidelong swipe at them. Of course, there’s no reason to be surprised about such “media bias”; the modern media are well aware that nothing feeds the bottom line like drumming up controversy over some half-baked “issue,” and sports is no exception. The editors at USA Today are hardly the only ref bashers around. In fact, one of their articles cites some of the more juicy examples elsewhere, such as,
But oh, the officiating. The officiating is not watchable. What happened Sunday in St. Louis was a travesty, from beginning to end. The league and the union must put aside their differences, get back in a room and hammer something out, because — and I can’t believe I’m writing these words — the integrity of the game is at stake.” – (Tracee Hamilton, Washington Post)
No man with a brain could witness what took place at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon and come to the conclusion that ‘the replacements’ did anything close to a credible job. They were, in fact, embarrassingly bad in a variety of ways and if Goodell allows the folly to continue deep into the season he will be eroding his own shaky credibility.” – (Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer)
Last week I thought the replacement officials were adequate. Watching football Sunday, I felt like a passenger in a car going 20 miles an hour too fast on a mountain road with hairpin turns; we weren’t going to die, but it was going to be a dicey ride. – (Peter King, Sports Illustrated)
The title of the USA Today article with the quotes above was, “Dear replacement refs, America has turned on you.” Well, not all America. I watch a lot of games, and I’m still not mortally offended. I’ve seen bad calls, but I see bad calls every year. The pattern hasn’t changed. The bad calls always victimize my beloved Green Bay Packers, and favor evil teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. If it’s any consolation to the sports writers, it could be worse. I could be a ref. Whenever I differed with the replacement refs on a call, I was almost always wrong, and they were right.