The Substitutes

I caught a little bit of the Patriots – Ravens game tonight. The unnecessary shoving and slapping I witnessed in such a short time may actually rival that of the Jersey Shore crew. However, these football players didn’t require absurd amounts of alcohol to get hype…  JUST replacement refs.

I agree, the officiating has been just plain bad, and wildly inconsistent. The delays, poor calls, missed calls, and flat-out confusion that has occurred since the replacement refs were handed the reigns is frustrating. Clearly, “frustrating” is understatement for what it’s been for players and coaches. However, I’m pretty sure of one thing: there’s no excuse for the fighting and/or harassing and demeaning of these officials.

As I watched the game unfold, I couldn’t help but notice the mounting horror on the faces of these poor blokes. They are, after all, in charge of keeping order amongst very large men who have now resorted to physical violence against one another. Not good.

Then it struck me. I’ve dealt with this before. This is what I like to call, Substitute Hysteria. If you’ve ever had a substitute teacher, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Remember that stickler of a teacher you had, whose class you dreaded? Remember the joy you felt when you walked into his or her room and saw an unfamiliar face behind the desk? Yesssss, we’ve got a sub!

Whether you were a good kid (like me ;)), or the one that made that substitute hate their life for a solid 50 minutes, you’ve experienced Substitute Hysteria. There is a certain sort of madness or frenzy that can occur when a group of kids outnumber a naive and unsuspecting substitute teacher. Spit wads, slapping people (friends or enemies), and other random acts of craziness occur. Most of which would never happen if the “real” teacher was in.

That same hysteria has taken over what used to be an orderly classroom, headed by Ed Hochuli and his biceps. Unfortunately, Mr. Hochuli & Co will be absent for at least two more weeks even if a deal to end the lockout is reached soon. Meanwhile, these poor subs have completely lost control of their classroom.

Now it only takes a few bad “kids” to evoke madness in a classroom. Likewise, there are always a few unruly parents as well. Parents who think they know better than the teacher and think they can call the shots, rather than teaching their kids to be respectful.

I mention this because there are now two coaches, Denver Broncos head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, who are reportedly being fined $20,000 each for publicly criticizing the replacement refs. Then there is Bill Belichick, who made the not-so-smooth move of grabbing a replacement official by the arm while running off the field tonight. Get your checkbook out, Bill. That’s gonna cost you, too. The point is, just like parents can make jerks out their kids, coaches can do the same to their players.

OR, they can be like good mommies and daddies and teach their kids that despite the second-hand officiating they’ve had thus far, they must still carry themselves with class and act like role models.

To wrap it up, I want to explain why I’ve been so empathetic to the replacements. have been a substitute teacher. You do the best with what you’ve been given, and hope that your students aren’t heathens. For those that are heathens, a little dodgeball to the head during gym class will shut them up rather quickly, or so I’ve heard. Whoops! 😉 For the replacement officials, your little yellow flag (when used correctly) should help you maintain order as well.

Bottom line is this: These players may not respect the current officials, but they still have to answer to their coaches. Coaches, be the example for your players. These replacements are doing the best with what they’ve got. Mr. Hochuli and crew will be back before you know it. Hopefully. 🙂


2 thoughts on “The Substitutes

  1. You’re spot on, and great analogy! I remember taking advantage of the substitute teachers we had in junior high and high school. Curt Shilling made a great point the other day on ESPN Radio. He said, “I would use these replacement refs to my advantage.” I thought that was interesting, but he went on to say that he would make friends w/them, joke around, and get them on his side (pre-game and during the game), but play the game the best HE can, regardless of what calls are made throughout. At the end of the day, a call that is made is not in your control (as a player or a coach), so the best thing to do is accept it and focus on the next play, and do what YOU can do to help YOUR team get a W. Too many coaches, players, and even fans, get caught up on calls that they think were bad, wrong or incorrect – but what will that do the call that has already been made? Nada. I still love this game and this season has had more exciting finishes than I can recall this early in a season! The refs we all know and love (and sometimes also hate b/c they, too, make bad calls), will be back sooner than later, I have a feeling. At least the replacements are keeping it interesting, and I like interesting:)

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