I spent two+ hours last night watching the reaction of a football game that had already ended. On Monday Night Football, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Green Bay Packers by a score of 14-12 and anyone that watched the game could tell you the final score should have been Green Bay 12, Seattle 7. The officials of the game incorrectly gave Seattle a final play touchdown they did not score, creating outrage in sports like I personally have never seen. Not to mention of course the fact that up until that last play, the officiating in the game was horrendous.
Who cares right? I mean it’s just one game and it’s just one play that was screwed up and the officials are always making bad calls but this call is part of a much larger issue. Up until the start of the 2012 season, few could argue that one of the best run and most respected businesses in the United States was that of the National Football League. Over the last thirty years, the NFL has become a multi-billion dollar a year industry, employing hundreds of thousands of people, entertaining millions.
Unfortunately though, greed has gotten the better of the NFL and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.
The NFL Labor Dispute
Any NFL fan (or even casual sports fan) is aware of a labor dispute that has plagued the league this year. The NFL officials (the guys in the black and white stripes on the field for those who don’t know football) are demanding better employment terms in order to officiate the games, including full time positions and pension plans and the league has refused their proposal numerous times. As such, the league has hired “replacement officials” to handle all NFL games and every single official is a rookie (meaning they’ve never officiated an NFL game before). It’s your typical labor dispute between two parties who feel their entitled.
The end result of this dispute has been awful football. Games are taking longer, are poorly managed and in some cases are being won by teams who should not have won them. These facts were ones the regular officials were counting on in order to get what they want, but the league has yet to budge, and with good reason. The NFL knows that it doesn’t matter who is officiating the games … you and I are going to watch, buy tickets, play fantasy football and buy player merchandise just as much with our without good officials.
The NFL Lesson
The National Football League is a business, run by 32 men and two women (owners of NFL teams, known as “the league”) who are worth many many billions. They’re worth this much because they understand, among other things, how business works. The product the NFL is delivering today is of lower quality than it once was because it’s cheaper. Replacement officials cost much less than that of regular officials and certainly much less than if the league we’re to give into the regular officials demands but the demand of their product is the same. In business, when you can cut costs without cutting revenues or profits, you do it.
Is there any risk in what the NFL has decided to do? Maybe a little. I suppose there are a few people who will boycott the league or get so frustrated that their team lost when they should have won they stop watching football forever but for the 99.999% of the rest of us, nothing changes. The players and coaches will keep their mouths shut because they are making millions and the fans will watch. Pawns in a game played by kings.
Many pundits and so called experts on the NFL suggest that sooner or later, the leagues decision not to deal with the regular officials will cost them but I’m on the exact opposite mind set. Every week that goes by is another display of power by the NFL and another week of experience for the replacement officials. The sooner everyone realizes that the NFL is truly too big to fail (the real version), the sooner we can move on and enjoy the new version of NFL football.
At least now, the Jets actually have a chance to win the Superbowl!