Full-time officials could improve accuracy, but is the cost worth it?
When it comes to full-time officials, there are real concerns about whether it would truly improve the accuracy of calls. Regardless of whether the numbers change, embracing full-time officials would create the perception that the league is doing everything it can to improve the accuracy of calls.
FOX’s Mike Pereira, who previously served as the NFL’s V.P. of officiating, has expressed concerns regarding the manner in which officials would be utilized.
“I can’t fathom what a side judge would do all week to get better and make better calls on Sunday,” Pereira told Peter King of TheMMQB.com. “Read the rule book? Watch a lot more tape?”
Well, yes. And yes. But there’s more than that.
As one league source with extensive knowledge of the officiating function told PFT, officials who don’t have jobs that they work throughout the offseason and on weekdays during the season could be assigned to work practices, as often as players do. The officials also could be exposed to all possible officiating scenarios via a virtual reality simulator, sharpening their knowledge of the rules by making them apply them in a setting that feels like a real game.
Meanwhile, the full-time officials could be subjected to similar training and nutritional requirements that players endure, minimizing the physical risks of being on the field among pro athletes in full pads and allowing the officials to focus more intently on the game action.
The real question for the NFL would be whether the expenses necessary to persuade officials to give up their current jobs and to devote their full energies to officiating would be justified by the actual or perceived improvement in the quality of officiating. If it’s simply a matter of appearances, is it worth it? If it improves the accuracy rate by 0.1 percent, is it worth it?
The NFL can easily afford to make all officials full-time employees. But like any other business decision, cost must be weighed against benefit. And the possibility of full-time employees likewise should be weighed against the costs and benefits of other potential devices for getting more calls right and fewer calls wrong.