It really is quite amazing how seemingly effortlessly, yet through great effort, the NFL has managed to expand their enterprise into not just a 24 fours a day, seven days a week news cycle, but also one that spans 365 days a year.
What I’m really trying to say is that there are at times simply too many things to write about that certain items worth of being passed along slip through the crack. One such item that I would like to comment on comes from late April, during which it was announced that the NFL is going to be teaming up with the CFL to create a joint officiating development program.
The CFL—the Canadian Football League, of course—operates under slightly different rules than does the NFL, but the skills are naturally transferrable, as the game is still largely identical outside of the dimensions of the playing field and a few other minor to moderate details. It’s still blocking and tackling and running and throwing, after all.
As the official release through NFL Communications reads, in part, “beginning this season, a group of NFL officials will have the opportunity to work as part of CFL crews during preseason and regular-season games in June and July”.
There has perhaps never been a time in which the manner of officiating in football has never been under intense scrutiny, but the level of dissatisfaction from the general public with regard to the quality of officiating is surely about as low as it has ever been, and much of that blame has been placed on the league itself.
NFL officials are not, so to speak, full-time employees of the league, but are seasonal workers, I suppose in the manner in which players used to be. Many, perhaps the majority of officials, work other jobs during the year as players once did before the minimum salary became hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Given the limited basis of their employment, there has no doubt been a limitation on the extent to which officials can master their professions not just in the classroom, but also on the football field, with the necessity of making split-second decisions that can be critical in a game.
A join cooperation between NFL and CFL officials—CFL officials will be eligible to enter the NFL’s Officiating Development Program—can only be seen as a positive, a step in the right direction that further immerses the officials in their work, although I believe a push is still in order to create full-time officiating positions that are year-round. The league can certainly afford it, after all.
As the statement reads, “this historic partnership gives officials in both leagues an opportunity to hone their craft and get better through shared development activities and more snaps at the pro level”. Indeed, one beneficial aspect that this provides that even full-time officiating cannot is more in-game experience by working additional games north of the border.