Kevin’s Key: Skilled Officiating and the Impact on Student Athletes

Sports Editor

Eight seconds. Eight short seconds turned a NFL game into a full-blown controversy. In the final play of a Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers game on Sept. 24, Green Bay was up 12-7. A Hail Mary, a forward long pass, from Seahawk Russell Wilson to Golden Tate in the end zone became a play that cost Green Bay the game, with the final score of 14-12.

Packer M.D. Jennings had the interception, while Tate only had a hand on it. According to the replacement referees, this was an acceptable touchdown. Replacements. The NFL was in a lockout with the official referees, leading them to hire replacements, who are most likely unqualified to be officials. Outrage sparked as the NFL released a statement in which they backed the final call and head replacement referee Wayne Elliot claimed that they were told not to call pass interferences on Hail Maries.

The greed of the NFL, which led to the poor officiating, cost the Packers a game. In today’s economy, many students must depend on their sports to help prepare for the future, but one close call can cause a student to miss out on scholarships or awards.

The importance of qualified officiating cannot be stressed enough, not only for obvious reasons, but for the sake of respect. Players and coaches have faith in referees by believing they are qualified to keep the game fair, and that they are committed to their job unlike the replacement referees. These officials must be fair, decisive and even willing to review plays. These should be standards that are met by all referees, not just NFL. When officiating becomes spotty, sportsmanship and conduct become blurred.

Often times, flagrant fouls are called and that typically prevents another, but once some players begin to realize they can commit harsh fouls with no penalty, they get into the habit of fouling with bad intentions.

Much like the way students are held to standards academically, officials must be held to standards in terms of their qualifications. Do they know the sport? More importantly, do they know how to protect the athletes?