In past weeks, the replacement refs in the NFL have been a popular topic of jokes and Facebook memes. Some fans think these refs are so bad that they don’t even want to watch football anymore because they are destroying the integrity and spirit of a good, old-fashioned game of football. Monday night’s Packers vs. Seahawks game was the epitome of all that is wrong with the replacement refs. Missed penalties, conflicting calls, and terrible spots have been seen throughout the last three weeks and especially in this last game. The last hail-mary play in that game has sparked so much controversy throughout the sports world; this might give the NFL the push they need to re-negotiate the terms of their deal with referees.
For those of you who don’t know what has been going on with the NFL referee situation, let me recap. About a month ago, the NFL wanted to change how NFL referees received retirement benefits. They wanted to switch from a defined pension plan, which is a fixed, stable source of retirement revenue to a defined contribution plan, which is a fluctuating source of revenue based on future investment earnings after someone retires. The referees are obviously unhappy with this because they would much rather prefer a retirement plan that has less risk and fluctuation. Thus, they went on strike to prove a point that they are necessary to run a game of football, and they should be treated with more respect.
I think they proved their point. Many fans are threatening to stop watching NFL because the games are becoming more about the farcical nature of replacement refs rather than the sport. Many articles are commenting on the inefficiencies caused to everyone by these replacement refs. For example, InvestorPlace quoted that the NFL is projected to generate $9.5 billion in revenue this year. Not only will the NFL lose fans due to the poor performance of these amateur referees, they might lose their sponsorships as well. The NFL has enormous partnerships with CBS, FOX, NBC, and Nike. The potential value of losing these partnerships is a lot greater than the $18 million they owe the refs in salaries and the extra $4 million it would cost them to settle the disputes. The NFL, as an organization, has the obligation to maximize the value to their stakeholders. By not successfully negotiating the deal to bring back professional referees, the NFL is compromising their stakeholder value, and they may lose even more fans and potentially even their relationships with other companies. In the end, this is a lose-lose situation and the NFL should just give in to the demands of the referees and give them what they want so they can appease their stakeholders.
-By Yashwant Chunduru
The controversial hail-mary play referred to earlier in the post: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHsUc2zm0KI.