For the casual fan such as myself, the final second of the Packers-Seahawks game had the thrill of the Roman circus – an arbitrary, conflicted decision was handed down by emperor referees. For the real fans and the teams, it must be torture. But is it painful for the owners? After all, they will influence the decision in the labor dispute with referees. Steve Young thinks not:
The NFL is “inelastic for demand,” Young said, meaning that nothing — including poor officiating — can deter a significant percentage of fans and corporate sponsors away from the most popular game in the country. It’s the primary reason the NFL has held steady in its labor impasse with regular officials: There is no sign that enough of the sporting public cares to make it a priority.
“There is nothing they can do to hurt the demand of the game,” Young said in the video. “So the bottom line is they don’t care. Player safety doesn’t matter in this case. Bring Division III officials? Doesn’t matter. Because in the end you’re still going to watch the game.”
But the NFL/referee dispute is partly about “pay for performance” – the NFL wants to bench referees who botch calls (the money issues are trifling as a fraction of NFL revenue). This suggests the NFL does actually care about good officiating. This makes them weak in the face of the current officiating. They should cave sooner rather than later.