The NFL Replacement Referees Are Exposing The Fallacy of Instant Replay

Right now, football fans are having a field day shitting on these guys.   Granted, they are easy to shit on because they are terrible.  Frankly, I think people ought to get off their backs; it is not a crime to suck at a job you aren’t ready for unless your suckitude might kill people. I would not want a replacement airline pilot or heart surgeon, so I really just can’t get that  whipped up about bad referees.  After all, it’s not as if the regular referees never fucked things up.

But, the sheer suckitude of these replacement referees is generating a lot of commentary which happens to be missing a crucial point.  Didn’t the “instant replay” crowd tell me that technology was supposed to eliminate bad calls?

Face it, that is the whole reason the why instant replay exists; it is supposed to banish bad calls to the same backwater of football history as the leather helmet.  The trouble is nobody wants to admit it doesn’t work. Nobody seems to want to admit that bad referees are the problem.  Let’s look at some examples from this past weekend.

In Sunday’s 49ers-Packers game, the referees were so over-matched that San Francisco got away with at least four false starts and got called for a block in the back on a kick return despite the fact they were the kicking team.

Then, there was the Steelers-Broncos game during which the officiating crew couldn’t manage a clock let alone instant replay. They lost track of the two-minute warning.  Here’s how: when a touchdown happens at the two-minute mark, the officials are supposed to wait until after the conversion before calling the automatic time-out.  But this crew called the time-out immediately after the touchdown, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, except that it gave the Broncos more time to set up a two-point conversion play, and it cost the Steelers a time-out which they could have used during their two-minute drill.

But to me, the worst happened in the Patriots-Titans game.  It was a perfect example of instant replay’s inability to fix bad officiating because even though the replay system worked, somebody got hurt because of of a terrible call.  The officials mistook an incomplete pass for a fumble — a call which even the real refs blow all the time – and the incorrect ruling was reversed by the replay booth. The problem was since the original call on the field was for a fumble, which meant that the play was not blown dead as it should have been. Then during the return of the non-fumble (a return that should have never happened), Titans quarterback Jake Locker was hit and knocked out of the game with an injured shoulder.

Imagine what sports-talk radio would sound like today if it had been Tom Brady who got hurt because of such a call? There would be screaming for the heads of replacement referees, who while the may be worse than the regular officials, are  not the problem. Calls get blown all the time regardless of whether we have union referees; the constant is the false belief that instant replay fixes bad officiating.

People are enamored with the idea of eliminating “bad calls.” By following the logic of the argument in favor of the current use of instant replay, one is led to the conclusion that bad calls have been wiped from the face of the NFL.  Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, replay allowed for the creation of silly rules which by their very enforcement are bad calls – such as the “Tom Brady Tuck Rule” and Calvin Johnson’s “Catch that wasn’t a Catch.”

Here’s the big problem…a bad official with a replay screen is still a bad official. Tell Jake Locker about how instant replay fixes everything. It doesn’t, and it never will.  Here’s why…

Let’s says that we get every thing available to be reviewed by instant replay.  Is the guy watching the replay monitor human? Do humans makes mistakes? So, why does the concept of instant replay automatically get a pass on the inherent flaws it has? The only argument I’ve ever heard on this point is “replay is better than anything else.”

Here’s my question: if people make mistakes, and both systems inherently involve people, doesn’t it make sense to introduce a system that rewards making less mistakes and punishes making too many? In other words, as long as have a glut of bad referees, you are going to have a glut of bad calls.  As I’ve mentioned, that’s the fundamental problem with instant replay; it doesn’t even solve the problem it is intended to solve, in fact in several respects it complicates them.  So, what we are left with is a plan that solves nothing, introduces a host of new problems, and happens to have some serious practicality issues.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to make the first step eliminating the bad officials, union or not?  Now, that sounds like a good idea.

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6 responses

  1. Unfortunetly it will probably take a big name injury due to a blown call to start the process of a resolution to this impasse between the referees and the league.

    1. Makes perfect sense…it took 9/11 to end the last impasse between the referee’s union and the NFL.

  2. Bad news refs in breaking training.

    Please stop making sense, sir. Someone might eventually hear you.

  3. This was spot on. For real, the problem isn’t the replacements the problem is that they still have a tendency to get the call wrong.

    Now, I think as sports fans we have to realize at some point that although we would like to get everything right, it’s impossible to get the call right 100% of the time. It’s human nature to err, and I know that after a few too many vodka and lemonades I’ve been known to put it in the wrong hole. And in that moment, I find myself surrounded with butthole. Delicious, delicious butthole. Total butthole immersion.

    Where was I? Ah yes…we all make mistakes. The point you’re trying to get at here is that instant replay doesn’t fix shitty officiating. That is true. Most calls are non challengable anyway, and refs make more calls in the heat of battle than a lot of fans would like to admit.

    Meehan

  4. [...] all saw what a sham this turned out to be.  Some of us were pointing this out after Week 1.  But it took a debacle to happen on national television robbing one of the most popular teams in [...]

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