The latest reports are indicating that the NFL referee lockout may be coming to a close.  But be careful before you get too excited, this isn’t necessarily going to solve the league’s officiating woes.  I believe there is a larger problem at hand which the current situation is simply bringing to the forefront: In today’s NFL, the guys with the whistles play far too great a role in the outcome of games.  It’s a dilemma I have noticed in the NBA as well.

I’m not sure how to fix this, Bill.

In both cases athletes are getting bigger, faster, and stronger, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to tell what is and is not a penalty/foul.  If you look hard enough you can probably find a “hold” in almost every NFL play, or an illegal screen on every possession in an NBA game.  Is the pass interference on the offense or the defense; is the foul a charge, or just a flop?  Too many things are subjective, and virtually impossible for the referees to discern in real time with the naked eye.  Meanwhile we are able to sit back at home and watch HD replays from various angles at an extreme close up in super slow motion.  The officials don’t stand a chance.

In this respect Major League Baseball is a much better game than the other two (sorry hockey, you don’t get to be in this debate).  With the exception of an occasional ball/strike dispute or safe/out call, the game is almost always decided by the actions of the players, not the umpire’s perceptions of them.

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