In an attempt to quell growing fan unrest over the job being done by its replacement officials, the NFL today announced a new promotion it expects to increase public engagement with the national pastime. Commissioner Roger Goodell says the YOU MAKE THE CALL! contest will randomly select nine lucky fans to officiate Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
The contest hearkens back to the old You Make the Call series, where the TV audience was presented with an actual game situation and asked to decide the correct call. The answer was revealed after a beer commercial.
Fans can enter by logging into either NFL.com or BudLight.com. Rules are as follows:
- Entrant must be between the ages of 21 and 100.
- No prior knowledge of football is necessary. Winners will go through the same 15-minute orientation used for existing replacement officials.
- Winners must supply their own lodging and transportation to the game. If they own their own striped shirts, that’s cool, too. Winners will not be allowed to wear the merchandise of their favorite teams during the game, but are free to post such pictures to Facebook.
Seven winners lucky winners will assume the roles of on-field officials, while two more will serve as video replay judge and official timer.
Additionally, the league will use the occasion to introduce fan voting for controversial calls. In all coach challenges, fans will be able to vote online whether to overturn the call or let it stand.
Goodell says the league has been contemplating something like this for years. When asked why now, he said the contest is a natural for fans, most of whom have believed for years that they can do a better job than the refs. “This year, that’s literally true, and since there’s an opportunity to make lifelong dreams come true for nine fans without further compromising the integrity of the game, it made sense to do it now.”
S&R asked Goodell if he was worried about player safety or about the possibility that inexperienced officials might compromise the outcome of the game. “No, not at all. Demand for our product is inelastic, and ratings this season make clear that fans would keep tuning in if we replaced the replacements with monkeys riding pigs. In fact, that might actually boost ratings.” Here Goodell paused to instruct his assistant to look into the availability of trained monkeys that can ride pigs.
What about the fan voting idea, Goodell was asked. Isn’t he worried that viewers will vote for their favorite team regardless of what the replay shows? “Through Sunday’s games in week three there were 20 coach’s challenges and 16 of them were overturned, and in a world where your officials are wrong 80% of the time, we feel like injecting more fan partisanship into the process is only going to be a good thing.”
NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith was asked for his reaction on the promotion. “I get paid the same either way, right?”
The S&R Sports Desk will keep you abreast of further developments in this story.
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