I made it clear from the start that this blog would cover professional sports and public relations, not just sports in general. That’s because non-professional sports, which in the United States refers almost entirely to college sports, involve mostly people my age who shouldn’t be held to the same level of public scrutiny as their professional counterparts. Simply put these amateurs are younger, less mature, and as such can fly under the radar.
However, college athletes aren’t the only amateurs in the world of sports. I’m stretching the definition a little here, but NFL referees are amateurs as well. That may come as a surprise to some of you, who assumed that refs would be full professionals just like the players they officiate. It’s true though, NFL referees are part-time employees. Yes, they derive financial benefit from their services, but they are not referees by profession. They either work other jobs in addition to reffing or are retirees looking for something to do with their free time.
“Ok, NFL refs are amateurs, so what? Why does this matter?”
Well, how many times have you heard about questionable decision making and blown calls by the referees this season? There have been several instances of bad reffing this season, and many are calling for change. The NFL has enough problems on its hands as it is, and throwing consistently bad officiating into the mix is enough to drive millions of football fans away from the game. Professional athletes shouldn’t be held back by amateur officials; it cheapens the sport and simply isn’t fun to watch.
This goes beyond a simple “integrity of the game” problem though. The NFL gets flooded with bad press every time a ref blows a call, which in 2016 at least has been on an almost weekly basis. This is a PR nightmare and unless the NFL does something soon, lower TV ratings might be the least of their problems. Am I saying they should make NFL reffing a full-time job? There might be too many roadblocks to make that happen, but at the very least they need to address this as a league, to prove that they actually care (and are working on some sort of solution). When certain crews are becoming known for bad officiating, it’s time to make big, permanent changes before fans decide that they’d rather just watch college football, where the players are amateurs as well.