Last night on Monday Night Football, the Green Bay Packers lost to the Seattle Seahawks on a last-second touchdown pass. Normally that wouldn’t be big news outside of sports.
Except the touchdown pass was actually an interception.
It was incorrectly ruled a touchdown by replacement officials who are currently watching over the games in the National Football League. Those officials are in place because the NFL can’t come to a collective-bargaining agreement with the NFL Referees Association and has locked the regular officials out since June.
According to a Bill Plashke article in The Los Angeles Times, “When you crunch the numbers, if the NFL gave the locked-out referees everything they wanted, it would cost about $100,000 extra per team per season. That equals about four games’ pay for one of a team’s lowest-paid players. The owners are watching their sport burn because they won’t improve the officials’ compensation by about one-fourth the amount they would pay a backup guard? Think about that.”
That’s greed. That’s arrogance. That’s what’s wrong with business in our country. The NFL believes as long as fans are still buying jerseys, going to games and watching the games on TV, there is no problem with using replacement officials. That’s a dangerously short-sighted view. These replacement officials are making terrible decisions during games and confirming the NFL moves too fast for them. The long-term view would be to find middle ground and reach an agreement with the regular officials who train for the game, are the best at what they do and help provide credibility to the sport. Instead, the NFL prefers to make a joke out of the games by putting cardboard cut-outs of officials in place. The NFL views one of the essential pieces of their game as a simple commodity. No different than the grass the players play on.
This display of greed and arrogance is doing even more damage beyond its own sport. As a multi-billion dollar business, the NFL influences not only its own business and industry, but smaller businesses in other industries as well. How can we hope that other companies and industries will make the right decisions if the largest pro sports league in the world refuses to act with some humility? If a multi-billion dollar business shows the world that treating people like a commodity is the way to act, what hope is there for smaller business to act differently? Or a car company? Or a bank?
If this latest debacle doesn’t move the NFL to take action and end the labor dispute, we’ll be left watching the NFL tear down its own reputation game by game and blown call by blown call. And we would be left with another example of an arrogant business taking advantage of its customers.
Let’s hope the NFL wakes up and acts like a group of human beings, not a group of greedy billionaires.