I am a huge Seattle Seahawks fan, and a huge fan of the NFL. It is the only professional sports league I follow with any regularity at all, and I include college athletics in that category. After the embarrassing win last night over the Packers, I can only say that the replacement refs must leave, and they must leave immediately.
The trick is how this can be accomplished. As many have said, so long as the owners are getting revenue, they will continue to avoid the $100,000 in extra benefits per club per year the refs are asking for. I believe that a boycott of games would help, but like most "gas-outs" (where people were told not to buy gas on a given day), there is little chance of this actually happening.
No, what we need are for one of two things to happen.
First, and I believe the best, is for the replacement refs to simply refuse to work. Really, replacement refs, are you enjoying yourselves? Is this in any way, shape, or form worth the money you're being paid to try to accomplish a job that you are, frankly, completely unqualified to take on? Do you really need Bill Belichek chasing you across the field at the end of the game? No. In a word, no. This is not worth it. Just refuse to take part in this charade, regain some self-respect, and see how quickly the league and the owners cave to the demands of the trained officials who do this job well. Week 4 is not going to be better for you, it will be worse. Much worse. We know you're doing the best you can. Unfortunately, that's not even remotely good enough. Please, just stop enabling the joke that is the 2012 NFL season.
While I'd love to see this happen, I believe that the real motivation will come via the fans, but aside from those who pay for tickets, they only have one way to pressure the league. With a boycott of products advertised during NFL games.
This could actually be kind of fun. While you watch your favorite team play, write down who is advertising during the game. Put together a form letter (a simple sample is given below) and send a copy to every advertiser via email telling them you won't buy their products while the game is in such a shambles. Advertisers pressure the networks, and the networks pressure the league. You can also boycott NFL Network advertisers, all six of them.
Help stop the sick joke that is the NFL referees lockout. Because you know that if this continues even a few more weeks, this season will have a giant asterisk next to it in the record books.
Here's a sample template letter you can cut and paste:
Dear NFL Advertiser,
Because of the replacement referee debacle currently unfolding at NFL games throughout the league, we have decided to temporarily boycott all products advertised during NFL games. We are very sorry to do this, but unfortunately we don't see any other way to convince the league that the game we love has been severely damaged by the continued lockout of the trained referees. As such, we ask you to put whatever pressure you can on the networks and the NFL to call a halt to the lockout immediately. Once the lockout is over, we will go back to purchasing and using your products. Thank you for recognizing that the NFL is the crown jewel of American sports and can only continue to be such with effective and competent officiating. Thank you for your time.