Americans across the country are up in arms about the replacement referees in the NFL. Not really being a fan of the NFL, I really couldn’t care less. I mean, seriously, it’s just a game; a kids game, at that. What really bothers me is that these guys make millions of dollars for playing this kids game and are considered role models by many. In the meantime, the real role models: parents, relatives and people who work in fields that truly benefit humankind (like teachers, firefighters, police officers, etc.) work long hours for inadequate pay. Now, as if that isn’t bad enough, half the damn country is an uproar over the lower level of competence being displayed by these replacement referees. Really? With all that’s going on in the world, this is what you’re upset about???
To give a little background on this subject, the NFL is using replacement refs (scabs in union parlance) because of a dispute concerning the NFL’s desire to change part-time referees into full-time ones. Now, these part-timers already have jobs as teachers, lawyers, etc. and pull in about $10k for officiating a Sunday game. So, you can imagine why these people are less than happy about that situation. Then, there’s the pay and pension part of the dispute, with the NFLRA (NFL Referees Association) wanting to keep their defined benefits plan while the League wants to switch to a defined contribution plan, such as a 401K. The officials did offer a concession that newly hired officials would receive a 401K plan, while those already employed would keep their current retirement benefits. The NFL rejected the concession outright. Goodell’s use of replacement officials is a way to apply pressure on the NFLRA to settle by showing he doesn’t need them. In other words, he’s trying to break a strike he initiated by locking the officials out of their jobs. And, he’s doing it over something that cost the about 1/3 of recent raise. Isn’t that nice?
What’s even nicer is that this ridiculous distraction is pulling us away from the real issues that face us everyday. While two groups of people of varying levels of wealth argue over a pension plan, millions of Americans don’t have a retirement plan at all. While these people argue over what is supplemental income for them, that “supplement” would be a pay check that many would love to receive; especially that 8.1% of Americans don’t even get a paycheck. While what amounts to a bunch of overpaid children argue over money many of them (the owners, many officials opted out of the retirement plans at their full-time jobs) won’t miss, families with real children are reduced to using food stamps to feed those children. While these people argue over money and power, almost 650,000 Americans are homeless and significant portion of them are veterans, children, mentally ill and LGBT youth; all groups that to whom we either owe a debt or a responsibility to. This is just sad.
The next time you want to rant about replacement referees or something else just as frivolous, take a second and look around. I’ll bet you can find something better to rant about.