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Jacobsen: Commissioners, listen to your fans (Oct. 1)

Vicky Jacobsen | Sunday, September 30, 2012

It’s okay to admit it. Presuming you’re not a Packers fan (and if you are, I am really, truly sorry), a small part of you was happy to see the officiating fiasco that ended last Monday night’s game between Green Bay and Seattle. After weeks of watching NFL commissioner Roger Goodell pretend that professional football could be played with amateur refs – and hearing about the letters he sent out to his franchises in an attempt to pressure them into keeping up his charade – weren’t we all ready to see him proved wrong?

I never thought I’d see the day when the entire nation rushed to the defense of the referees, but that’s what Goodell and the league managed to start. The bad spotting, phantom pass interference calls and unruly four-hour games we sat through under the replacement officials were bad enough, but the fact that Goodell appeared deaf to the complaints was infinitely worse. We all know that Goodell’s ultimate job as commissioner is to make as much profit as possible for the owners he represents, but if he can’t provide the players and coaches a fair environment to play in and the fans with legitimate games to watch, what is the point of playing?

I’m not sure we’ll ever know why Goodell was so stubbornly set against improved compensation for the referees. As one solutions-oriented meme writer suggested, the cost of increased referee benefits would likely be covered by the fines Goodell is continually levying against Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The only logical explanation for the three weeks of regular season play without experienced officials is the NFL’s habit of putting ego ahead of compromise. It is because of that infuriating attitude – the assumption that because the NFL is big and powerful everyone else should bend to its demands – that one of America’s most popular teams was robbed of a win and the legitimacy of the NFC standings was thrown into question. It’s the reason Goodell has been forced to get in front of the media and apologize for sub-par games (I will openly admit that I enjoy seeing Goodell humbled in this manner, even if I don’t fully accept the apology.)

To honor this week of nationwide vindication, I say we acknowledge that ownership and governing bodies should listen to what the fans want. For one thing, they can have pretty good ideas (although dollar-beer nights at major-league stadiums is not one of them. Those days are long gone, and for good reason).

Secondly, the fans will eventually get their way. Take the replacement of the BCS with a college football playoff in the next few years or soon-to-be instituted goal line review in soccer. Both were fan-backed ideas that seemed to represent the end-of-days for their respective governing bodies, yet both will soon be enacted and improving their sports. All the foot dragging only makes the associations look bad. So with that, I have a few more suggestions for the organizations that seem to be deaf to the pleas of their fans.

To the NHL: End the lockout already. This is the third work stoppage in my lifetime, and that is not acceptable. The people want their hockey, and I strongly suggest you give it to them. It really can’t be that hard.

And to ESPN: The nation does not care nearly so much about the Tebow-Sanchez quarterback drama as you do. Actually, we don’t care about the Jets all that much in general. So we’d all really appreciate it if you’d talk about another team.

And to all the commissioners, associations, conferences and leagues around the world: You really should listen to your fans. After all, we’re the ones giving you money.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]

The views expressed in this Sports Authority are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.