What we learn about replacement labor from the NFL

by Matthew Stollak on Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two weeks of the NFL season are in the books.  Are you enjoying the slow-paced action as replacement refs try to figure out what is going on?   Difficulty spotting the ball, clock operation mishaps, and some basic misunderstanding of the rule book have made a typical fall Sunday afternoon somewhat less enjoyable....particularly if your team is on the losing end of a bad call.  I believe there is almost universal accord that the current replacement refs are not working.

But, a larger lesson to be drawn is that, perhaps, not all human resources are easily replaceable.  That a race to the bottom in terms of labor might not be the wise path to take.  Certainly the "scab" refs are cheaper than the refs that are striking, but they are also pretty bad.

So, I wonder how many of those who are disgusted with the incompetence being displayed by the replacements are still looking at Chicago and the teachers strike thinking, fire them and bring in someone new?  There are so many unemployed, and, hey, anyone can teach 3rd grade.

Be careful what you wish for.


Love this take, Matt. Sure, over time, and given more experience, training, etc., eventually the NFL could probably field enough passable replacements so that the difference in quality was not as noticeable. Sure, many, possibly most people are fairly easily replaceable, but certainly not all, as we are reminded with the current set of replacement officials. Makes me almost nostalgic for Keanu Reaves at quarterback.

by Steve Boese on September 18, 2012 at 9:41 AM. #

Mike Rosenberg at Sports Illustrated had a similar take: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/michael_rosenberg/09/18/replacements/index.html

by Matthew Stollak on September 19, 2012 at 9:48 AM. #

Couple of questions - how much experience do you have sitting at a bargaining table as a representative of either labor or management? Can you even begin to appreciate the decision of both the workers to strike or that of the employer to try to find replacement workers? What about the replacements who are trying their best under the circumstances they've been put in?

I'm sure everyone is sorry that the strikeout is affecting your game day experience. Are you informed as to what the disagreement is regarding? Did you know there is a no strike/lockout clause in their CBA? Yet, its the NFL's fault? I have no skin in this game but I can respect how difficult it is for all involved having experienced a strike and sitting at the bargaining table.

I can't begin to express my disappointment that an educator of future HR professionals would be so offensive to call replacement referees "scabs."

by Anonymous on September 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM. #

Very informative blog...

by Vira International on October 18, 2012 at 2:58 AM. #

Very informative blog as HR policies is concern....

by Knee Surgeon on November 23, 2012 at 12:37 AM. #

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