I have held back to this point on commenting on what is, basically, a labor dispute about a bigger piece of the pie.
After this last weekend, and last night's debacle of a football game, I am done.
The NFL needs to get in the room and find a middle ground with the referees, or they need to hire better ones than what they have. I am dumbfounded that they couldn't at least get access to FBS level referees. Honestly, if you had an SEC or Big 12 set of referees doing and NFL game, I doubt we would even notice. They are used to a game at near the speed that the NFL works at, and they are used to working together, but these referees they have in place are making a mockery of the game and the profession.
I can deal with judgement calls, and I can even deal with them being slower to announce the penalties, if it means they were conferring and making sure to get it right. What I cannot abide is a play like the one that ended the Green Bay/Seattle game where the head referee ignores his mate who is responsible for the play and makes a ludicrous call which decides the outcome of a game.
We can debate whether the referees are in a position that needs the protection of a union, but there is no point. They have the same right to enter into group negotiations as any other group, and they have chosen to do so. They are trying to protect themselves against a monopoly, which we know as the NFL, and they do have an argument.
The NFL is trying to move them all directly to a 401k, without increasing the pay of the officials. As they currently receive a league funded pension, this is basically a pay cut, with increased risk around retirement. I would not go for that either, and I doubt that any of the rest of you would.
So, we know the cause, and we know the effect, but what is the solutions.
I came across what I thought was a solid writeup on Malthusian Nectar. An excerpt:
There are two reasonable solutions to the labor impasse. The first is that the NFL decides that only new referees are switched over to 401(k)s. This seems simple enough, and it’s unclear why the NFL didn’t offer this to begin with. As I said, the salaries of the refs are probably minor enough so that there’s no major economic rationale as to why the NFL can’t continue to pay the defined benefit plans for the current refs.
The other solution would be to completely eliminate the defined benefit plans, by offer payoffs for the old plan, or salary increases to compensate. Indeed, the NFL could even offer this as an option. For example, either a ref:
(a) Makes $50K and gets defined benefit, or
(b) Makes $54K and gets a 401(k)
These are so simple, and for a business that is making a reported 9 billion a year, it is ridiculous that they will not take care of the people who, for analogies sake, provide their quality control.
You can do what you want, but the NFL will be seeing no more of my money until they sort this out. No merchandise, no tickets, no links to their websites....nothing.