Who is more Badass?

It’s not hard to overlook the little guys running around the big bad athletes during a game.  They are just so diminutive, dressed in dark colors and at times fat.  Funny to think that these small men are the ones actually calling all the shots.

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With the power to call all the shots, they are at times public enemy #1.  With questionable play calling, enforcement of rules and sometimes downright stupidity blowing their whistles for no good reason, does that automatically mean we respect them any less?

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Referees, Umpires, Blue, Official, Ref, Reviewer…..call them what you will but I believe they are at times the true badasses in Sports.  Considering they are the ones holding all the power, did you ever stop and think, do they deserve it?

I know, I know a loaded question, but it still is an important aspect about the game, an aspect that can make or break a game.  Their level of their significance to the game is indispensable, without them we wouldn’t have sports.  Every sport needs rules and regulation to function, hence someone to enforce the standard yet is it possible to give more respect to some refs over others?  You know, the refs that are more badass? Does the level of a ref’s badass affect our perception of them and in turn affect our perception of the game they are refereeing?  All of these questions can’t really be answered unless we had the luxury of interviewing a number of refs from every sport, but it is nice and convenient to base an argument on mere observation.  Thank you Television.

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We first have to pick our sports: NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL and Soccer.  Every sport requires their refs to have the same level of professionalism and acute decision-making but calls on different athletic ability.  The difference in athletic ability is what separates the badasses from the feeble in referee world.  Some refs are expected to get into the game full throttle, rubbing elbows with the athletes, putting themselves at risk to get hit, harmed and bashed.  Kind of awesome right?  While other refs are expected to sit in the backfield, stand around and wait for the plays to happen.  Basically they are the lucky guys getting paid to watch a game on the field.

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The level of badass among refs is definitely not distributed equally among sports.  Now that you have been reading my banter, you may be asking yourself, who are the most badass refs in sports?  Ha, my works is done.

5. NBA

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These guys do in fact have to run up and down the court, but let’s be honest, the court ain’t that big.  I can’t recall one of these refs ever getting hurt or smashed by a giant basketball player.  Even though bald men can be super badass (Bruce Willis….Kojak…..Mr. Clean), I just can’t really take NBA officials too seriously with their funny kicks in the air, chop block technical foul calling and high black pants.

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For some reason, it’s their play calling that appears to be the stupidest because the game always has to be put on hold to be reviewed via instant replay for about 2 minutes.  Unlike the NFL, NBA refs seem to stay far away from the player when in action.  Their level of badass seems to deplete when they get all chummy with the basketball players.  There is so much small talk in the NBA with players and referees it’s almost nauseating.  It almost looks as if they going to grab a beer later, which is cool but so not badass. A badass ref wouldn’t have to explain their calls to the players either.

4. Soccer

I don’t know too much about soccer but can tell you, the most physically fit refs are probably the ones in soccer.  Unfortunately their level of badass begins to crumble when soccer players begin to get “hurt.”  You gotta hand it to them though, soccer fields are HUGE so constantly running up and down the field can get tiring and quite possibly fatigue their play calling abilities and judgement.  I get it, you can’t be two places at once nor can we the refs get magically built by that radioactive spire and have super human vision to see all.

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I  feel like a badass ref in soccer wouldn’t stand for those “fouls” and Oscar-winning performances of I’M BEEN HURT< I”VE BEEN BLINDED.  Perhaps it is apart of the game’s culture but a real badass ref wouldn’t stand for it.  Maybe more red cards need to be given out…..then again if more red cards were given out…all the best players would be thrown out of the game….and then there would be shitty soccer.  Meh.

3. MLB

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Even though these are the refs, or umpires, that probably do the least amount of physical work, they still have their badass moments.  Baseball umpires are in the game, perhaps more on the sidelines with one squatting behind the catcher and a couple of them standing on the edge of the foul lines but are still very involved.  These batch of umpires are probably as fat as they come but that doesn’t deter from their level of badass.

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The umpire behind the plate is the king…directly facing 90 mph pitches on a daily basis.  One thing you have to take into consideration are the fights.  Have you seen any other refs get in a full on scream match with baseball players or coaches?  It happens on a regular basis.   Their level of badass is validated even more so if their screaming matches, game tossing antics ignite a baseball fight involving both teams complete with the bull pens running out into the field. Love it.

2. NFL

Philadelphia Eagles v Dallas Cowboys

The dance moves alone separate them from the rest.  Despite the embarrassing too much commercial time dance moves, these refs put themselves right into the action.  They are the refs that can get tackled, pushed and shoved to the ground by players.  Players don’t even mind hitting the refs because NFL refs are considered to be apart of field, not actual people.  Have you ever seen any other ref taken out on a stretcher?  That alone is badass.

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There is some running up and down the field, but not to much physical exertion with these refs.  Their level of eagerness to be IN the game alone is badass enough.  They are so close to the player makers, I wouldn’t be surprised if they slapped Peyton Manning on the ass.

1. NHL

Dallas Stars v New York Islanders

Beyond badass.  These refs take the Badass Cake and spit it back in your face.  I think it is safe to say that these are the only refs expected to have the same athletic ability as the players: to skate like the motherfuckin’ wind.  NHL refs have to keep up with all the players thus have to skate as fast as them.  Plus, the small ice arena alone where slamming players against the wall is customary can involve refs as well.  Now comes the age-old question, is hockey more violent than football?  You decide America.

The refs wear a protective helmet for god sakes.  What other refs have to do that?

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils

These refs also support Fight Club.  Badass.  Hockey players are almost encouraged to thrown down and get in a fight while the refs stand and watch.  If the refs were truly badass they would get in on the action, but ehhh, they gotta follow some rules too I guess.

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NFL Replacement Referees Running Ridiculous

It is safe to say the NFL replacement referees are in indeed a ridiculous bunch.

Ever since the quarrel between the NFL owners and referees over a management-labor situation…..basically a “who wants to earn the more money” situation.  Such a money-grubbing business……but then again that is all professional athletics.

The NFL owners don’t want to pay the Refs their hefty pension, pretty good deal for only working 16 games out of the year.  The owners want to roll back their pension.  Any employee no longer receiving the guaranteed money they were promised by their employers is going to cause some outbursts.  Then again, why are refs getting pension at all when they work once a week for less than half a year?  Dayum, sign me up.

The veteran refs said they have already planned their retirement based on this pension.  Fine.  Let those veteran refs get the pension and have the league hire new refs and get them off the pension.  Is it that hard to hire new refs, new reliable and experienced NFL refs?  Well, based on the performances of these new replacements refs……I guess it is.

These replacement refs are unfortunately not cutting it.  There are construction sites safer than NFL stadiums right now.  The refs have been calling terrible plays and sometimes not even calling plays at all, especially personal fouls.   This labor dispute is not only compromising the 32 arrogant NFL owners and 121 headstrong referees but more importantly the health and safety of the players.  You know, the big guys on the field who actually do the REAL work and PLAY the game!

This disagreement seems like it is going to lead to more than just empty pockets and angry faces, more or less some broken bones and broken spirits.  The responsibility shouldn’t be to your wallets, it should be to the safety of the players, the ones who draw the crowds, make the money, make the game!

The NFL’s effort to save money has made a mockery of the league and put its legitimacy into question.  Is the game of football really being tarnished by all of this??  The ones who are truly suffering in all of this are the players and spectators….you…the audience…the fans!

Some officials as well as players are so frustrated by the situation that they can’t keep their mouth shut.  One former official, Jerry Markbreit, blasted the league this last week claiming that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just doesn’t care, “”It’s obvious to me that (Goodell) just doesn’t even care. Otherwise, how could they replace professionalism with unprofessionalism in a game that’s so tough to work, even for the best officials in the land? How could he care about it?”

Markbreit is confident that the refs and the league officiating will inevitably deteriorate, “”These guys have relied on competent, top-notch, terrific officials all these years. And now they have a bunch of amateurs out there and it’s going to fall apart.  It’s not going to get better, as the commissioner said … It’s going to get worse.”

Great, sounds like a party.  In the replacement refs defense, defensive linemen for the New York Giants Justin Tuck said it best, placing the blame on the NFL for this unfortunate predicament, “I am more upset with the NFL for not handling this and taking care of this in due time, I guess. I think the replacement officials are doing their best in a very sticky situation for them.”  Very true….very true. These refs aren’t trying to fail and make terrible calls, they are just in a newer bigger and badder arena.  They aren’t used to the NFL and are probably scared shitless to even step foot next to Ray Lewis.  But for the rest of us, we are just used to the best officiating and don’t want to settle for anything less.  The NFL is forcing us to settle……bastards……and we just have to bite our tongue and pray that a resolution will be made sooner rather than later…..Let the good times roll boys.  Oh wait, Jerry Jones has something to say….

The wannabe George Steinbrenner of the NFL, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, expressed different sentiments about the situation, downplaying the impact the replacement refs are having on the football games, “You’ve got to remember that you’ve got all kinds of complaints at any time about officiating,” Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM. “Did you happen to notice that the ones that were complaining the most, if it were from within, were the players and coaches on the losing teams? Hello. I don’t even have to look at the games or the dates on the newspaper, just hand me one from 30 years ago and it’ll be the same thing — they’re complaining about the officiating.”

Hmmmmm.. sorry Mr. Jones I beg to differ.  Yes, I agree that it is inevitable that coaches and players will often disagree with officials and their decisions, but this is quite a different matter.  This matter is jeopardizing the integrity of the game.  The calls these refs are making aren’t just some lousy calls for fan interference or excessive celebration, these are a lack of calls that can lead to harmful outcomes for the players.  The safety of the players should be the number one priority of everyone involved in the NFL.  Even the hot dog vendors at Candlestick park want Alex Smith to be well protected and healthy.  If he doesn’t get a call for roughing the passer or holding and in consequence breaks his nose or elbow…..then we have a problem.

The poor officiating has created an unstable environment that is going to get somebody badly injured.  The owners and refs need to make a compromise, for God sakes…..no wait…the PLAYERS sake.   So players can get back to the real work without the worry of ridiculous referees running the show into the ground.  Do it for the dedicated fans who not only bring you the cha-ching but give the games the passion and emotion that unites everyone, making the sport of football special and important.  Come on, this is the NFL, it should start acting like it.