Americans and Their Priorities ... - The Missourian: Opinion

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Americans and Their Priorities ...

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Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2012 5:00 pm

If you conducted a poll among Americans as to their No. 1 priority at this time of the year, do you think pro football would beat out politics in an election year? This came to mind when the National Football League (NFL) was using replacement officials who were under fire for their not-up-to-standards performances. The fans were outraged after a botched call cost the Packers a win over the Seahawks.

Pictures have been published about that disputed call in which the referees gave conflicting signals, and a ruling favoring the Seahawks was upheld. The Seahawks won and the referees apparently missed an infraction by a Seahawks defender.

Replacement officials were being used due to a dispute between the team owners and the NFL Referees Association. The regular officials were locked out. The referees were seeking better pay and retirement benefits and other improvements in their status. The referees are mostly part time and have salaries in six figures. Late in the week an agreement was reached.

We’d bet that this dispute was of more interest to many, many people and had a higher interest priority than the presidential election. Why? People are fed up with the constant barrage of attack political ads, and the gridlock in our federal government. Enough is enough, they say, to the long and abusive election environment.

Pro football is a diversion from not only politics but other humdrum aspects of our daily lives. A team attachment is tight. Fans live and die emotionally with victories and defeats. Somehow even low wage earners come up with the money to buy tickets. It’s expensive for fans, but seeing and cheering for their teams has a high priority and sacrifices are made.

When the officiating was as poor as it has been, the fans were not getting their money’s worth and it can cost a team a victory. An example of that was the Packers-Seahawks game.

The replacement officials appeared tentative on some calls. A former official in the NFL said the big difference in officiating a college game compared to a pro game is that the action is much quicker. Jason Gay, in a column in The Wall Street Journal, wrote this about the replacement officials: “These new hires have been overwhelmed by this tall request, and it’s not just about the egregious calls and mis-thrown flags, it’s about the absurd delays, the confusion upon confusion, the unraveling of the game’s rhythm and the outright disrespect from frustrated players and coaches.”

Widespread attention was given to this issue because the media knows of the high interest by people. There’s been more interest in this issue than about what the candidates for public office are saying, including the contenders for president. What does this tell us about the lack of interest and knowledge of the big issues facing this country? When there’s more interest in football than the presidential election, this country’s in trouble. We have no poll to tell us this, but we listen, read and draw conclusions. There’s no way to prove this conclusion that football rates higher than politics at this time.

Could be a stretch, but that’s what we’ve been hearing, and we all know many people are turned off about the presidential election and aren’t excited about either candidate.

/opinion