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Game Theory and the Replacement Refs of the NFL

Situation with replacement officials has become beyond ridiculous. There are a plethora of articles on the web that discuss the escalating scandal that is taking the NFL by storm. A situation that was comically bad at the beginning of this football season has grown dire and as the articles title describes, beyond ridiculous. To give some background the NFL is currently locked in negotiation disputes with the Referees union. Neither side made any headway before the season commenced and as such we began the season with replacement officials. As it turns out these officials are relatively incompetent when it comes to properly officiating an NFL game. What was a minor problem in the beginning of the season has urned into a colossal disaster just 3 weeks later. Poor officiating is now changing entire outcomes of games that can have rippling effects as the season progresses. In this article, the author discusses the situation at hand and what the NFL can do to alleviate this immediately. He notes that the refs are asking for an addition 3.3 million in benefits, pay, etc. This is a monumental value to the average individual, but when you consider that in tv revenue alone the NFL brings in 3.5 billion from just 3 networks this is a mere drop in the bucket (not to mention licensing, ticket sales, ad revenue, merchandising, etc).

At the beginning of the season some friends and I discussed whether it would be beneficial in the long run for the refs to strike. The original logic at the onset of the season was that these new refs are an asset to the NFL because they can be trained in whatever manner the NFL chose. But as the season has progressed its clear that these refs need alot of work. So the question still remains should they strike or not strike? Relating this to game theory, you have the refs on one side and the NFL on the other side. The refs options are to Work or Strike and the NFLs options are to Pay or Not Pay. At the beginning of the season I would have suggested that the optimal strategy was for the refs to work and the NFL to not pay. But as this controversy becomes bigger and bigger it seems like the optimal strategy is for the refs to strike and for the NFL to eventually pay in. The refs have gained leverage in this game that the NFL didnt forsee and it looks like this issue will be coming to a head very shortly.

-El Blanco

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