I know I wasn’t the only one frustrated watching Monday Night Football last night, when a bad call at the end of the game caused the Green Bay Packers to lose and the Seattle Seahawks to win. It was the strangest ending I’ve ever seen in an NFL game and one people can’t stop talking about. The replacement refs are terrible and undermining the credibility of the NFL. The league needs to do something about it, as they are ultimately responsible for ensuring the fairness of the game and safety of their players. I even feel sorry for the replacement refs, as they’ve been thrown into a job they aren’t prepared for.
In a lot of ways, the replacement refs are like new parents. I think back to the early days when we brought Clay home from the hospital. My parents came the first week, and when he was three days old they all left to go to Target. Breastfeeding was still new, and I liked having Chase to help me get situated. I hoped they would get back before I had to feed him again. I wonder if that’s how the refs feel. They hope to make it to the end of the game before they have to make any controversial decisions. They want help and buy-in from a colleague, even one who is inexperienced like them.
When Clay was 12 weeks old he suddenly began crying a lot and throwing up. I was lucky my mom was visiting. She had baby experience I didn’t have. She walked around with him to soothe him, giving me a break. I also called my friend Lindsey, whose daughter had reflux, asking if she’d had the same symptoms. She was more experienced and gave me great advice. My mom kept me sane until the next day when the doctor gave Clay reflux meds. I was doing my best to keep my baby happy, but those with more experience helped me make the right call.
Our kids aren’t babies anymore, but I still have the “replacement ref” feeling sometimes. Fortunately Chase and I are on the same page as far as discipline, but when our kids fight or misbehave, sometimes we see things differently, just like the refs. Maybe I only see Avery hit her brother, when Chase sees Clay pinch her first. I would just punish Avery, while Chase knows that Clay deserves to be punished as well. Sometimes we don’t see an incident at all, and we have to try to make a fair judgment based on the facts as we know them. Judging information provided by a two and four-year-old isn’t always perfect, but we do our best.
The NFL and parenting both have important outcomes. Millions of people watch football every week and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Parents try to raise their children to become productive members of society. Hopefully the NFL will get their labor dispute resolved, so the experienced refs can get back to work. And with any luck, as time goes on, Chase and I will feel less like replacement refs and more like the pros.