Lazy Journalism, Revisited:
Way way back, we wrote a piece on lazy journalism and how reprensible we think it is. People’s reputations are at stake so it’s of tantamount importance to do your due diligence and get your facts right. That said, sometimes it’s just infuriating. If you’re a sports journalist, you have one of the easiest jobs in the world. Sure, you have some primadonna egos that come with pro athletes to deal with. But in many cases, you aren’t just covering your favorite sports. You are covering your favorite TEAMS! Who wouldn’t want that job!?
The Offense: Taking the easy way out
Right now in sports journalism, there is no easier task than crapping out an article that criticizes the NFL’s replacement refs. Just highlight some mistakes that were made in this weekend’s game your team was in and how it cost them dearly, or nearly cost them, or could have gotten someone hurt, or whatever grievance you can concoct. Here’s the problem. The replacement refs are actually BETTER than the NFL referees that are currently locked out/on strike/not working/good riddance. That’s right. Better. Are they making mistakes? Sure they are. Are some of them costly? Well, yes. Here’s the thing. The NFL referees made exactly the same mistakes, just as many if not more, and don’t care. But because they’ve been around a while, if they blow a call that impacts a game, it’s practically a footnote. Ed Hochuli and his crew missed a pass interference call in the fourth quarter that could have changed the game, yada yada yada… but if a replacement official misses a call, it’s front page, headline news; in the paper the next morning, or on the internet immediately. “Replacement refs botch critical call in Team A’s loss to Team B.” It’s ludicrous.
Part of the Problem:
NFL officials are an arrogant bunch. They work in a situation where they make good livings for what amounts to less than a part time job. Do they have a legitimate beef with the NFL? Well, sort of. Of course, every working individual should want to move upward and forward in their careers. So should they receive increased pay? Yeah, bump their pay up commensurately with cost of living since the last CBA. Should some get more? Sure, give better raises to the referees that rate highest in accuracy. Create a committee that would take the best refs and make their jobs full time. That’s one way to address one of the biggest issues the refs union currently has. Offer better health insurance? Why not!!! But whatever you do, NFL, do not cave. The referees, for the most part, are already a narcissistic and arrogant brood with very little motivation to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. This is something that the replacement refs do have.
The Solution: Have the replacement refs’ backs
One thing you can say in a critical light about the replacement refs is that they are non-commital in some cases, and seem afraid to make a mistake, so they don’t throw a flag. This is too simple. Roger Goodell needs to come out with a statement that unequivocally supports them, telling them not to be afraid. If you see a foul or infraction, throw the damn flag. If you get one wrong, it’s okay. The real refs get more wrong than they do right. Offer the ones that perform the best a job as a real ref, taking the place of some of the more poorly performing regular refs. Isn’t that the way it is with the players? A backup comes in, outperforms the starter and stays there. I admit to copping out here, but look at the Dodgers. Juan Uribe comes in to play third and sucks. All other replacements tried also suck or get hurt. Along comes Luis Cruz, plays excellently, and gets the full time gig (for now). Seriously, what is the problem here? Exactly, there isn’t one.
So, sports journalists, how about instead of taking the easy way out and taking aim at an all-too-easy target, man/woman up and write something real and back it up with some actual analysis. Please and thank you.