A Momentary or Complete Loss of Perspective?

I’m as big a football fan as the next guy, but I’m having a very difficult time generating any real empathy for the position of the “regular” NFL officials who are still essentially out on strike.

I’m all in favor of people being properly compensated for their work, but I also believe that the free market economy should have a significant role in establishing what is a fair and equitable rate of compensation for any job.

NOTE: I’m going to leave out post-season play for the purposes of the following comparisons.

Do you know what NFL officials earn now?  Under the current agreement, NFL officials earn an average salary of $149,000 per year.  This is for a season that runs from August until December; a 5 month work year.  NFL officials are, and always have been, considered to be part-time employees.  By the way, a brand new first-year NFL official earns $78,000 per year.

For comparison purposes, Major League Baseball umpires earn an average of $200-300,000 per year.  Now before you scream “foul” in favor of the downtrodden NFL referees, let’s remember that the MLB umpire work year stretches from March (spring training) through October, 8 months.  The MLB umpires are also considered full-time, professional employees.

So let’s compare.  A part-time job which pays $149,000 per year versus a full-time job which pays $200-300,000 per year.  That sounds like a fair balance, particularly considering that in the case of both positions, the league in question pays all of their travel and hotel expenses.

How many of you who are reading this would turn down a part-time job paying $149,000 per year?

Another sticking point in the current negotiations between the NFL and the officials is the league’s desire to eliminate the current NFL official’s pension and replace it with a 401k plan.  I have to ask, what other part-time job comes complete with a pension plan in the first place?  The NFL’s position is that most corporations are doing the exact same thing for their employees.  In fact, Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL, is not covered by a pension plan.

The officials are apparently okay with this proposal in principle, but in practice they want the NFL to fund their individual 401k plans to the tune of  approximately $38,000 per year.

$38,000 per year.  Did you know that $38,000 per year is more than the current annual median income in the United States?  I worked in the corporate world for over 30 years and I can assure you that I never received a 401k matching contribution anywhere close to $38,000 from my employer.

So where are we?  $149,000 per year annual salary, a part-time job with a 5 month work year, all travel expenses covered, and the company wants to kick in a 401k plan.

I have to tell you; that’s sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me.  And I’m sure it does to the hundreds of thousands of folks across this country who currently find themselves under- and unemployed.

My advice to the NFL officials who continue to hold out for more:  Either get back to work or tender your resignations so somebody else can take your place.

Time to get on with it, gentlemen.

26 thoughts on “A Momentary or Complete Loss of Perspective?

  1. I can’t even imagine complaining about watching football on the field for 17 Sundays and getting paid 150k for it! Who would be willing to swap places with these poor gentlemen? Oh! Pick me! Pick me!

  2. Good information! I’m a woman who likes watching the sport of football with her husband from time to time–but we are finding more and more that turns us off from the sport. Don’t get either of us, especially my husband, started on the “dirtiness” of college football, or the subject of fair compensation. We pretty much have to suspend reality in order to just sit and enjoy the sport, which is disappointing. There is tolerance in sports here for actions that would receive no tolerance in other genres of work.

    Keep writing!

  3. It is pretty astounding what they make for what they do. All I know is that things were chaotic when those refs were gone. The subs screwed up plenty of calls against my team, it was disgraceful 😦

  4. I think the issue is that these guys want “fair wages” in direct proportion to what the players make…which everyone in the entire universe knows that players are paid anything but fair–they are grossly OVERcompensated for, in reality, a meaningless purpose in life. Not that I don’t love a good game…but I’m kind of over all of the “professional sports”. Turn off the game and go check out a local High School team…way more fun!

  5. I personally would hate the idea of having a pension replaced by a 401k, but other than that I agree with you. A job as an NFL official must be pretty hard to get if the perks are that nice.

  6. I don’t even watch football or follow sports (I know, I know) but this situation aggravates me. I understand the need to maximize income and opportunity, but holy hell I’d take their job any day! Thanks for the post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  7. I agree. With all of the benefits that the regular officials receive you would think that they would be content, but there is always more to be had. I’d like to say, forget you regular officials, but then I saw the Packers/Seahawks game…

  8. I feel the same way here in Chicago with the teacher’s union strike. As a future educator, myself, I think a $71,000/yr average for a teacher’s salary is more than generous.

    Courtney Hosny

  9. With the unpredictable three weeks of the replacement refs, the NFLRA definitely proved a point as to the invaluable status of the official refs. It’s crazy to think that much money is involved and now it’ll be interesting to see how things play out with the NHL.

  10. Well, they’re back and even being (ESPECIALLY being?) a Green Bay Packer devotee, I cannot say that I see a big difference. Controversial calls still seem to riddle these games. Maybe they are out of practice? Their work certainly does not warrant their wage though. Thanks for the great post!

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