If you're unfamiliar with the outlines of the NFL farce that culminated in the "Inaccurate Reception" during last night's Monday Night Football game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers, here's a summary of how the sales team from your local Foot Locker came to officiate the most watched sport in America:
In a move that would make 19th century robber barons blush, the NFL owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell decided to make the most profitable professional sports league slightly more profitable by gutting the pensions of the regular referees, locking them out until the union agreed to the demanded concessions. As it happens, the cost of accepting the referees's bargaining position comes to a very modest additional $100,000 per team per year, but NFL owners have never been willing to put a price tag on their desire to snuff out any whiff of unionism beneath the heel of the Job Creators.
With professional referees locked out and qualified replacements unwilling to break solidarity with the regular referees, the League was forced to rely on scabs drawn from high school football and the Lingerie Football League. Not referees who had been promoted from the Lingerie Football to the NFL, mind you. They hired officials who had been cast off by the Lingerie Football League for their incompetence. In a statement, the LFL said, "Due to several on-field incompetent officiating we chose to part ways with with a couple crews which apparently are now officiating in the NFL."
Comedy quickly turning into farce, roughly 80% of challenged calls on the field have been overturned upon review and dozens of coffee tables have been overturned in the nation's living rooms as penalties went either unenforced or culled out of thin air.
The bright spot in all this is the holy war that has been ignited between Republicans who just want to watch football and their conservative friends who chastise them for insufficient ideological zeal in the face of the union enemy. The hardliners have been making their presence felt on Facebook…
"If we give an inch to the unions, they'll take the entire 100 yards. Short term pain = long term gain."
I see what they did there. And on ProFootball Talk…
"Don't blame the replacement official's for the job they are doing! They are doing the best they can do for a quicker and faster pace game then what they are use too. If you want to blame anyone blame the official's that are locked out. They are the ones that put these poor officials in this situation they are in."
The counterpoint comes from the likes of union-busting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, who appended his tweet about disappointment in the outcome of the Packers game with a #returntherefs hashtag.
It's entertaining to watch, but if we're at a point where the official conservative position is that a private sector union isn't allowed to bargain with a monopoly employer, then they should have the courage to go all the way. Does the NFL need referees at all? Why are zebra-clad bureaucrats restraining the potential of the most powerful players. If the free market wants that quarterbacks head to be severed by the linebacker, it shouldn't by stopped by some unionized yellow flag-throwing sissy.
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images Sports/Getty Images;
Tags: Conservatives, Football, Scott Walker, Sports, Unions