America Needs Good Refs -- On the Gridiron and in Politics
Seldom do America's two great passions -- politics and sports -- come into such sharp focus together as they have in the uproar over the role of the referees in each field, in the midst of the 2012 presidential campaign and the
As supporters of President Obama and
Wealthy and demonstrably greedy team owners finally caved in the wake of an arguably botched call on the field Monday night that handed the
Finally recognizing the damage being done to the integrity of their cash cow by the efforts to sweeten their own pot, the owners yielded to the demands that the regular refs' pension plan be retained, putting them back in their stripes and onto the field for last night's game in
Meanwhile, in the political realm, complaints continue that the news media are blatantly biased in favor of or against a given presidential nominee, or are so unhinged by structural change as to have become as unreliable as the replacement refs in the
Newspapers and newsmagazines, shaken from their former dominance as the oracles of the political commentariat, have seen their near-monopoly shredded by the Internet and a cable television world increasingly given to the ideological leanings or flat-out declarations of featured partisans.
At the same time, more print reporters -- still ostensibly striving for fact-based narrative and analysis -- are, by choice or management policy, appearing before television cameras in inevitable competition with the more free-wheeling and opinionated creatures of the airwaves.
Too often, the result is the same in the refereeing of both politics and sport. There is more fodder for dispute than for public enlightenment, and the concomitant verbal warfare sours the dialogue and demeans both endeavors in the eyes of the intensely involved spectators.
The difference in the analogy, of course, is that one is a real-life competition over the direction of the country and the other is only a game. But in each, the overwhelming influence of money has contorted what should be, in the self-adopted and oft-disregarded
At least for the time being in the world of pro football, public reaction has apparently has convinced the owners to stop biting the viewers' hands that feed them so well. It remains to be seen whether the game itself can quickly be brought back to its former credibility. At stake also is the safety of the players, some of whom notably often took advantage of the sloppy penalty calling to administer late or intentional blows to their opponents.
In the mini-furor over more head concussions, one of the more exciting plays -- the kickoff return that often led to head-hunting -- was neutralized by moving forward the point of kickoff, making touchbacks more likely and discouraging runbacks by speedy receivers. The owners in this way supposedly demonstrated their concern over the players' health.
But the game of politics, of which the American people are alleged by the politicians to be the "owners," has increasingly been put in the hands of big-money special interests, spending to rig the system to their own advantage. Unfortunately, the
The Obama campaign, itself focused laser-like on the re-election of the president in light of the lame economic system threatening that outcome, ought to be spending time as well on the longer-shot challenge to regain control of
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