Fans can find it in their hearts to forgive their team’s quarterback’s errant interception. And when a running back fumbles? Maddening, but it’s just part of the game. When a coach or offensive coordinator calls a play that fails on fourth down and short? Don’t worry. We’ll get it next time.
But God help the official who errs.
The one segment in the game from which perfection is demanded is officiating. The problem is that it is one of the most daunting tasks in football. The perfect game has never been played. Nor has any football game been perfectly officiated. But the expectation that officiating be error-free is among the reasons that its practitioners are diminishing in number. A conundrum not unrelated to player health and safety, the trend will impact the game’s future.
A Tough Job Made Harder calls on some of the most prominent names in football officiating—among them are Mike Pereira, Terry McAulay, Jerry Markbreit, Bill Carollo, and Dean Blandino—to reflect on how the modern game has increased pressure on its arbiters. Those stresses have, in too many cases, driven good people from the work. Downstream officiating shortages will negatively impact football’s quality, not to mention the players’ well-being.
The challenges include technology in the service of improving officiating, which has paradoxically made the job more difficult. Declining respect for the games’ authorities has rendered the work more daunting. Unrealistic expectations, especially at entry-level games, have compounded matters.
The contributors take on where the difficulties lie, what has and is being done to overcome them, as well as the best means to address them. They weigh in on how the game’s nature defies artificial intelligence as the answer.
They also highlight that the dedicated men and women who have undertaken the avocation and those who have made it their career maintain the steadfast pursuit to get every call right.
ATough Job Made Harder reveals that football officiating is and will always be a human endeavor, just as it for those who play and coach the game. And it reinforces that the humans who perform the work are heavily invested in pursuing perfection, unattainable though it may be.
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