By: Alex Bock
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- Sports fans across the globe have developed a mutual distaste for one major part of any sport: referees.
Anyone who has been a sports fan long enough has probably had their own fair share of vein-popping moments where they witnessed a referee either miss an obvious call or simply make a call that was absolutely blasphemous. The NFL has especially been on the hot seat due to incompetent or corrupt refereeing, particularly after a major missed pass interference call in last year’s NFC championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams, resulting in a 26-23 overtime win for the Rams.
Unfortunately, this is a problem that has plagued the NFL and all major sports for generations. There have been countless missed calls along with terrible penalty calls that have in many cases affected the outcome of the game. Buffalo sports fans have had their own fair share of controversial moments in sports, including the forward lateral in the Bills’ 2000 wild card game against the Tennessee Titans, in which an illegal forward pass was thrown. In addition, the Buffalo Sabres lost the Stanley Cup in game 6 of the 1999 Stanley Cup final, when Brett Hull scored the winning goal while his skate was in the crease, thus dubbing it no goal.
It is understandable that not everybody is perfect, including referees. However, there should be a line drawn when referees have missed too many calls or have demonstrated bias in games, especially when the calls made or missed seems to give that kind of notion.
In the Buffalo Bills’ 16-10 loss to the New England Patriots in week 4, there were multiple cases of intentional grounding by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady that were not called. This heightened the belief among football fans everywhere that the referees give special privileges to Brady and the Patriots and allow them to get away with penalties. In addition, Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones delivered a helmet-to-helmet hit on quarterback Josh Allen, resulting in Allen leaving the game with a suspected concussion. Despite the vicious hit, Jones was not ejected nor subject to further disciplinary action by the NFL.
As a result of the rising numbers of missed calls and suspected bias in sports, fans have grown more vocal in voicing and demonstrating their frustration over the officiating. After the missed call in the Saints-Rams game, Saints fans held protests against the NFL and displayed their frustration with repeated chants of “we got robbed.” Fans have even started wearing referee jerseys and shirts to games to display the negative effect that referees have had on games.
The saddest part of all is that referees are also many times aware when they have screwed up a call and even admit when they have made such infractions. Players and coaches lose their jobs if they screw up too many times and officials should be held to the same standard.