A Public ApologySaturday, September 29, 2012 by: Mac Headrick
How else can I put it? I was wrong. All these years of being provided with an excellent service and I just took it for granted. More than that, how many times have l maligned the individuals who provided the service I speak of. Well this is the time to make amends.
I dedicate this column to all the basketball and football referees in Sault Ste Marie. The inspiration for today’s musings come from the debacle experienced by all fans, players etc for the past three weeks in the National Football League. Of course the most egregious event that will live in infamy for all time was the final play of the Seattle Seahawks and my beloved Green Bay Packers. The Headrick clan collectively almost had simultaneous heart attacks last Monday night. For the first time in watching football for over a half century I saw game officials steal a game from the rightful winner.
It should be noted my “abuse” of football and basketball officials is not of the yelling and screaming variety. It has always been of the humourous (to me) set up insult type. To give you a sense of what I speak of I will list two examples of classic “Bigmac” shots.
Often I would approach a referee and casually mentioned a group of basketball/football coaches had taken an informal poll and rated them the second best official of all time. Now considering hundreds of people have officiated sports in Sault Ste Marie being listed as number two is very good. Now what is the natural question from anyone who is told they came second? Who was rated number one? My answer – all the rest were tied for first.
Up in the football booth at Queen Elizabeth I have often lead or participated in rating the performance of that night’s game officials. Often I have suggested that the money earned by the game referees should be refunded to the league. Or I would muse that since some official had retired that the company that made the red flags that indicate a foul, had to lay off ten employees.
I have always had a good relationship with all the people who perform this thankless task. Being involved with local sports means I have seen hundreds of football and basketball games. It has been my experience that the coaches that are most critical of referees are the least likely ever to become a game official once their coaching career has ended. On many occasions I have told the individual I am insulting I only criticize referees I respect. That is a great line.
I am sure that the replacement officials used by the NFL were decent individuals who did their best. My criticism is not directed towards them as people but strictly their performance on the field. How bad, in general, were they? After the Monday night fiasco the commissioner of the Lingerie Football League, Mitchell Mortaza issued a public statement.
Before I deal with the specifics of Mr. Mortaza’s press release you should know the following. There is a Lingerie Football League. The concept is young attractive females dressed in skimpy under garments and equipment play football. Apparently this concept mixed with beer has a following with mainly young (alright… also some older) men.
Back to the press release from this league. Apparently some of the officials hired by the NFL to do their games had been fired from the Lingerie Football League. According to Commissioner Mortaza the terminations were necessary to protect the credibility of the league and also insure the safety of the players. Say it isn’t so!! Can you imagine an annual 10 billion dollar industry trusting the safety of its players and the integrity of its product to someone fired by the Lingerie Football League?
Of course, our local officials are not doing professional games. To the coaches, fans and players participating, these contests are every much as important as any far away professional games. To all local referees, I applaud your efforts. I make this solemn pledge to never insult you on field/court performances again. There is one small limitation with the last statement. The insults I speak off refer to material I have used in the past. Of course it doesn’t include “new” variations that may be created from the playground that occupies my mind.
As I see it in the end it took a professional contest to remind me of the importance of the people who are game officials locally. To all of the local referees I have ever insulted I apologize. Please keep in mind I only insult those I respect.