Any one of the millions of hard-working, talented individuals who have had to deal with the refrain, "you can be easily replaced," whether from an obtuse boss or a clueless observer, can take some satisfaction in the fiasco that has roiled the National Football League due to the use of replacement referees.
The best referees are locked out, so the first three weeks have featured replacements. Games have been longer, indecision has become a major feature in the games, and every week more NFL coaches, accustomed to competence, blow their stacks. On Monday night, the situation jumped the shark when, on a last-second pass, officials ruled a clear interception as a touchdown due to the receiver having a portion of his hand on the ball, which was firmly clasped in the arms of the defender.
It hardly bears mentioning that the receiver committed an easy-to-spot infraction of offensive pass interference, not caught by the replacement refs.
Now, we don’t care on these pages who wins NFL football games. Nor are we taking a stand on the financial dispute between the NFL and its regular referees that have led to the lockout — although we’re not surprised that Monday night’s fiasco led to reports Wednesday afternoon that this dispute may finally have ended.
The risible replacement referees currently contaminating the NFL serve as a reminder that many jobs are hard, and professionals with years of experience and training often deserve far more respect than backseat critics allow them.
This applies to politics, municipal government, teaching, coaching, parenting, mentoring, education, sports, the trades, professional work, and yes, even sports officiating.
There are a lot of tough jobs out there that tend to be thankless, and result in more complaints than compliments. When we see those same jobs attempted by lesser-qualified individuals, it’s often a revelation of how fortunate we are to have qualified people in tough jobs.