The flawed officiating system of the NFL

In week 15 the Kansas city chiefs defeated the New England patriots in Foxboro. The Patriots offense was stagnant, and the explosive Kansas city offense managed to do enough against the stout New England defense to get the win.

My thought after this game weren’t necessarily about the tell tale of either of these teams, or the future playoff implications, or anything like that. I couldn’t get over two specific plays. The play were Nkeal Harry of the Patriots reached over the goal line but was called short. And the play where Travis Kelce fumbled and a New England defender recovered it in stride with the end zone in sight but the play was whistled down because Travis Kelce was called down by contact.

These were two crucial plays in the game. The missed call on the Nkeal harry touchdown was a 4 point swing. No debate necessary on that one. The refs cost the new England patriots 4 points on that drive. On the Travis Kelce fumble play there is no doubt that the Patriot defender would have gained a significant return, and most likely score a touchdown.

I just dont understand why this should happen. With the resources of the NFL, there is just no need for it. On the missed Nkeal Harry touchdown, the patriots were helpless because they were out of challenges. The entire concept of a challenge is based on the accepted room for error by the referees.

If you have a group of referees on the field that are responsible for calling, and not calling penalties in real time, it is obvious there are going to be mistakes. And there are. To help cope with that fact, the NFL has coaches challenges, and referee review on scoring plays, and plays within the 2 minute warning. These rules are in place to help get the significant plays in the game called correctly. which is great. Although, the fact they feel the need to have these rules for specific situations shows a flawed process.

The fact that they review such a minuscule amount of the plays on the field, and we see time and time again that these play calls need to be corrected by review shows a flawed process. It shows that it is too difficult for the on field referees to adequately officiate the game in real time. with so few of the plays in the game actually reviewed, think about how many play calls the refs must get wrong. Think about how all these incorrect calls have impacted so many games to come to incorrect outcomes. Think about how much power this gives the referees. Power that is vulnerable to bias, and emotion resulting in incorrect calls.

In a game that is commonly referred to as a game of inches, these inches are often decided by the subjective calls of referees. The NFL has accepted a level of failure with its officiating process. In the past, this was acceptable. But today, with the vast resources of the National football league why should the NFL accept any room for error? There is absolutely no need for it. The NFL is completely capable of getting every single call on the field correct on every single play. So why shouldn’t they? If the NFL could get every single play called correctly on the field, it would leave fans with the feeling that the right team won every single game.

It feels completely unnecessary and outdated to have referees on an NFL field deciding the outcome of nearly every play in the game. If the NFL has come to the conclusion that in critical situations (scoring plays and under 2 minutes) video review should over rule the calls of officials in real time, then why shouldn’t all plays be decided by video review?

The logistics of this would certainly be a little difficult. One of the arguments against this approach is that it could slow down the game. Although, I believe with the resources of the national football league, they could easily manage to get every call correct with video review. While also maintaining the same pace of the game. The NFL could have 20 plus people in a room with video of all players on the field. And they could review footage of specific aspects of the plays as many times as they can with the time that they have. The NFL wouldn’t even necessarily have to get rid of on field officials entirely, but at least have meticulous video review of every single aspect of every single play.

Another argument against this approach is that there would be too many penalties. Nobody wants to watch a football game with penalties on nearly every single play. While this is a understandable argument, I believe that if NFL teams know that their players are going to be reviewed on every single play, players would adjust. Players would stop pushing to the gray area of calls, and try to play within the rules every play. If there would still indeed be too many penalties after an adjustment period, then its obvious the NFL penalty rules are too strict, and should be changed.

This lack of review, and accountability of the officiating process of the National Football League has created this gray area for referees. A gray area in play calls that leaves penalty outcomes far too much to chance, and leaves an on field officiating crew with far too much power. The NFL has the power to erase this subjectivity in its penalty calls, and make the game truly fair. The reason why they wont? I am not too sure.

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