Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Union Referees Need to Think of the Fans

By Jean Rangel, Vice-President of Media Affairs Canadian Football League

Let me begin by saying that I love referees,  Nobody has a tougher job than these dedicated professionals charged with running up and down the field, keeping up with world class athletes, calling a game with a lot of rules   If it were up to me, the referees would be the highest paid people on the field.   Unfortunately, it's not up to me and there are certain economic realities that the NFL Referee's Union need to be aware of.

This whole lockout began over referees refusing to give up their pension for 401k plans.   I can understand their reluctance, but frankly in today's economy nobody gets pensions anymore.  The hedge fund managers trashed our economy 4 years ago and according those managers, who should know, we are now in a time of austerity.  Even though the NFL is making more money than it ever has, many of the owners are seeing their other investments drop and impoverished cities are less likely to be able to fork over half a billion dollars to build a new stadium,.

While I love referees, I have a big problem with their union bosses.   The Referee's Union has demanded that referees be paid for every game they work despite having the shortest season in professional sports.   In 12 years, a player for the Houston Astros will have played 1,750 more games than a player for the Chicago Bears in the same amount of time.  Fortunately, this year the NFL has instituted the fuller game.   Games this season are about 20 minutes longer than last and that's allowing fans to have a more relaxed viewing experience with time to go to the bathroom or watch some fine arts television on Ovation during long replay breaks.

I really feel that the NFL referees simply don't care about the fans.   I look at some of their contract demands like refusing to be evaluated by the passing ratings of quarterbacks during the games they call and I shake my head.  Everybody knows fans like scoring and good referees will umpire games with more scoring.  The referees are also demanding that referees by paid the same rate rather than paying them on merit based on how many penalties they call in a game.

In the Canadian Football League we are having an exciting road to the Grey Cup with regular referees.  We continue to get calls from players, fans, and coaches who want to move to the CFL.  While the NFL and their greedy referees are at an impasse, it's a great time for American cities to invest in CFL football.

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