A belated thank you to the NFL replacement Refs

It wasn’t your fault you were put in that situation where you underwent more criticism than anyone not named Kardashian has seen in years, so thank you. Photo: Associated Press

CHICAGO, October 9, 2012 – Say Mark Zuckerberg were to fall ill enough that he was not able to run his company. His second-in-command would be so worried (hypothetically) that he would send Zuckerberg’s closest allies home, believing that no one could work without the boss.

The Facebook guru decided to leave a multi-billion dollar product to go without proper management when he had a choice to do otherwise.

Now, suppose that the second-in-command had the right to choose who would perform those administrative tasks which he decided the team could not. Who is the best fit to run the company? The most qualified candidates of course! Who does this man pick?

He picks Chicago’s finest eighth graders.

Keep in mind that these people have succeeded in all aspects of their lives. They are fine students, good athletes, and have rarely if ever failed at a task presented to them. In other words, they’re good at what they do. They have some vague comprehension of algebra, pie charts are starting to make sense, and computers might be transforming into something besides video games in their eyes.

Unfortunately, these students are now faced with a problem they’ve never faced before: failure. They won’t know how to manage this company, they won’t know how to analyze data to determine what people want and they wouldn’t be able to program the changes even if they had a magic crystal ball of the world’s desires. They fail. Those who had never failed were suddenly faced with a task entirely out of their league.

Speaking of leagues, this really should sound familiar to you by now. The NFL replacement referees were doing just fine at the Division III and high school levels (or wherever they were). Who ever heard of an international backlash over a D-III game? They were satisfying their customers, completing every task that was asked of them.

Then, the man with the most influence in the league (analogous to the Facebook shareholder) decides that because they wear striped shirts that they are capable of performing at the highest level ever seen. He decides that he doesn’t want the NFL to spend a small fraction of its several-billion dollar revenue stream on proper officiating, and puts the sports eighth-graders in charge of the NFL.

Why are we mad the officials in this scenario? We should be thanking them. They took a huge risk in accepting the position of being an NFL referee, whether they knew it or not, and that decision completely backfired. It could not have been much worse.

Yet they stood their ground, did their job to the best of their ability and were constantly berated by the media for what was perceived as unexplainable incompetence.

The officials are not to blame; the NFL ruined the first three weeks of this season. They knowingly sacrificed their product to save what would be pennies to the common man, and they ruined the reputation of dozens of referees in the process. Sure they weren’t great, but they weren’t trained to be NFL-caliber.

So when you think of the circus that was the first three weeks of the 2012 season, don’t get mad at the referees. Remember just how cheap billionaires can be.

Thank you, replacement refs.


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Nicholas Goralka

Nick Goralka is a sports enthusiast with eclectic interests. In addition to cheering on and suffering along with his Chicago teams, Nick is a competitively-ranked tennis player, enjoys debating real versus imaginary numbers in mathematical functions, and is a trumpet soloist in his Jazz ensemble which has performed throughout Chicago and for Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and Vice President Joe Biden at a recent charity fundraiser.  

Nick is still in high school, steadily working his way through his Statistics class, and learning more and more every day about analyzing the sports that he loves.

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