Players get cut all the time for egregious mistakes all of the time. We rarely advocate for taking away someone’s livelihood, but you have to question how to handle a situation in professional sports where the official (or multiple officials) miss the play that is right in front of their face.
When they have one responsibility on that play and they miss a call by a large margin. We are not talking about a bang-bang play or one where reasonable (or even irrational fan) minds could differ. We are talking about one of the worst calls all time in sports. One where the league apologized immediately after the game and one where the offending player joked with the media and acknowledged that it really was not a close call.
As I said at the outset, I don’t advocate for people to be fired for single instances of poor performance, but if you look around the world of sports, it is happening more and more at all levels of the sport. Coaches, Athletic Directors, front office personnel, media personalities and many others are terminated and/or suspended, in a very public forum. They are held up to open ridicule and made a target of late night talk shows.
So why do we seem very reluctant to hold officials to the same standard. They are human we are told. And they are. I believe officiating is an extremely difficult profession and certainly one that is not appreciated and never given credit for good performance. You almost never hear someone walk away saying “that was a well officiated game.” The best officials can hope for is to be ignored and not the center of attention.
So where does that leave us? What is the remedy for an outrageously bad call? There is none for the team. None for the players. You can’t go back and replay a game from the point of the call. The human element is not something that I want to see decide a game unless it is the human element of the players, not the officials.
It seems to me that the officials deserve the same public attention that any player would get. They do NOT deserve physical attacks, death threats or abuse of their families. But in today’s world, accountability is the mantra and that occurs primarily from a public disclosure of the failure. Officials are rated for every game and for every call within every game. While one call does not determine the full scale of their evaluation, it is hard to see how such a high profile mistake would still allow the league to put that individual (or individuals) in playoff games next season.
How do you think that the league should handle the discipline of officials for mistakes, especially game changing mistakes. We would love to hear your ideas.