The referees in an NFL game got a call egregiously wrong this week. The President of the United States felt compelled to instruct his communications director to tell us that he knows it. Packers fans, their cheeseheads fondued by looping replays, know it. Gamblers know: Las Vegas reported that upwards of $150 million changed hands on the call—though presumably this miscarriage pleased as many as it maddened: a losing wager has a taker on the other side of the bet. Even the league seems to know the call was wrong, but they’re not going to do anything about it. Everybody who’s ever made a mistake and then tried to fix it has discovered that there’s often—not always, but often–a little problem: it’s too late.
Umps and refs have gotten it wrong before—ask John McEnroe, Earl Weaver, Olympic figure skating fans or anyone who saw Maradona score with his “hand of God.” But the refs who got it wrong this week are subs, hacks, temps, scabs. The real refs were home watching. Home because they’re union guys, and they’re on strike. It’s a dilemma for guys like Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin who wants accurate calls and no unions. He also wants, like most everybody else, electricity, water, elevators, an educated public, bridges, air travel, movies and television shows—each of which currently requires unionized employees, not all of whom are worth their salaries but who nevertheless have had a “fundamental right” to organize and bargain collectively since at least 1937. Last week the union issue was heated up by the Chicago Teachers Strike, a phrase which today gets 17.5 million results in a Google search. But forget about educating those kids. America’s Game was compromised on Monday night. Something’s got to be done. “Ref Strike” at Google: 26.4 million results.