After last night’s refereeing debacle, a lot of NFL fans are upset. Many are questioning the integrity of the league. Some are even talking about boycotting the NFL until the real referees are back on the job. Those people are dumb.
The old officials will be back on the job soon enough. According to the latest reports, the league is currently in a fourth straight day of negotiations with the union. A deal will get done, though probably not in time for this weekend’s slate of games.
Make no mistake, however–the NFL is not going to cave in negotiations. Everyone can see that the quality of a refereeing has been poor, but it’s not hurting the game in any significant way. In fact, it might even be cementing the popularity of the NFL.
Bad refereeing means more interesting games and more storylines to talk about at work and on Twitter. How is that a bad thing for the NFL? Inciting passion amongst fans, either positive or negative, only serves to further entrench the importance of the NFL in their lives. It would be worrisome if people were apathetic about these bad calls, but they certainly aren’t.
This isn’t an NHL lockout, where there’s a chance that fickle fans won’t return after it’s over. There are no fickle NFL fans. People aren’t going anywhere.
No one is going to stop watching NFL games, regardless of how bad the refereeing is. All the talk of boycotts is stupid. If anything, even more people will tune in to next weekend’s games in hopes of seeing the next worst call in NFL history. It’s the train-wreck effect–you know it’s awful, but you can’t look away.
As long as the real officials are back in time to officiate the NFL playoffs, a time when a historically bad call could actually have the potential to alienate an entire fan-base, the NFL has nothing to worry about.
And it has no reason to cave in negotiations with the union of officials. So, we might get to see a few more historically bad calls.