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Why NFL referees must be model judges

The 'bad' NFL referee call in the 'Monday Night Football' game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers puts a spotlight on those among us whom we elevate as truth tellers and judges.

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A referee indicates a Seattle Seahawks game-winning touchdown over the Green Bay Packers during the fourth quarter of their NFL Monday night football game.

Reuters

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Even those who don’t follow sports have likely felt the collective outrage of football fans over a referee’s “bad call” in Monday night’s matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers.

Some outrage mattered more than most.

“Terrible,” chimed in President Obama.

Bring back the “experienced referees,” added Mitt Romney, referring to the National Football League’s lockout of its regular refs in a contract dispute and the use of less-qualified refs.

The referee’s call that gave the Seahawks a winning touchdown was almost like hearing that the Supreme Court had ruled the sky was pink. Or that NASA had announced that the moon was made of cheese. Or that the United Nations had decided to let Cuba join its Human Rights Council. (Actually, it did.)

Truth isn’t a relative concept to sports fans, just as it isn’t to most everyone else. They demand that those who officiate a game make decisions based on objective facts. They expect their referees to be neutral, observant, trustworthy – not biased, sloppy, or arbitrary.

Yet referees, like baseball umpires or Olympic judges, have it rough in the era of instant replays and YouTube. Their mistakes are magnified while their good calls are not appreciated. Athletes, too, know better these days how to break a rule with stealth in order to win. Games are faster. Fans are more alert to“unfair” calls.

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