Football has always been an interest of mine. For as long as I can remember the Washington Redskins were a staple on Sunday TV. My memory goes back to the 1968 season when Otto Graham coached the Redskins to a 5-9 season, and was fired for his troubles.
In the last 44 years I’ve seen countless games and while not all my memories are good, I have to say that the referees have done an outstanding job. They don’t get it right 100% of the time, but it’s pretty close.
This year the NFL locked them out over a labor dispute. It was pretty silly and the lockout had more to do with intimidation than money. The NFL decided that they could employ “replacement referees” and none of us would notice. We did. The replacements came from small colleges and high schools and frankly, they couldn’t keep up. On national TV we saw that it’s not as easy to referee a professional NFL game as it looks.
On September 24th the game between the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks was marred by a call none of us could defend. Suffice it to say that the Packers’ season could go down on this play. The next day the real referees were back in place.
For those of us who favor labor unions this is a good day. Workers with skills who group together with others with the same skills know that management always think that their skills are not as valuable. In truth I’ve never belonged to a union, but I had a job where my boss told me that “any idiot” could do my job. When I quit he hired any idiot. He lasted almost a year and they had to hire two people to replace me.
Look around you. If you think the person who picks your crops or bathes your grandmother in the nursing home, or washes your dishes in your favorite restaurant is unskilled, think again. They may make less money that you, but their labor is every bit as skilled as yours.
You may not notice until they don’t show up for the job, but when they do show up, you should notice. None of us are going to suffer because the real referees weren’t there for the first few weeks of the season, but it should remind us that union workers improve our lives every day.