NFL Replacement Refs a Bad Bet

Poor refereeing during Week 2 undermined the quality of a few of the NFL games.  Spectators of both the live and televised games are starting to sour on the replacement refs who too often stop games for several minutes to huddle and make concensus calls.  In addition to altering the natural tempo of the game, these refs miss and misjudge calls with the potential effect of altering the game’s outcome.  Often this happens at excruciatingly critical moments in the game.

The dispute with the regular referees will not be resolved until at least week 5, but the growing hue and cry over performance of the replacement refs suggests a far quicker resolution.  NFL games are ratings gold, yet viewers seem to be souring on an experience that is marred by substandard referring.  As a mainstream business that lives and breathes the rarified reputational air of putting on the best of all entertainment products, any threat to its quality should be treated as a potential disaster to the league and franchise’s good will, quality and value proposition.

As a testimony to the extent of the threat, odds makers are surely making adjustments to account for the risk of referee-misjudged outcomes. Vast amounts of money are wagered on NFL games, and odds makers assess the risk of a sport that is tightly and consistently ruled.  Any variance from this expectation changes the risk profile. To have replacement refs affecting the outcome of games where millions of dollars are changing hands makes one hesitant to pick a side and bet on them.

Goddell acknowledges that this is an issue but steadfastly maintains his stance that they are working hard to come to terms with the regular referees.  But if the replacement refs continue to botch plays and hold up game times there is going to be some serious criticism of owners and the commissioner. Since the league brings in an estimated $9 billion in revenue. To haggle over a couple million seems ridiculous when the quality of the product is being compromised.