Even though I am a self-professed giant nerd, I also love me some sports. I spend a lot of time talking about sports, listening to sports radio and, of course, watching sports on television. During the NFL season, even though I’m at church on Sundays, I still do my best to watch as much football as I possibly can. I love the NFL and would watch it regardless, but my involvement in six fantasy leagues heightens my desire to watch.
That desire to watch the NFL is being tested this season because of the replacement refs. The NFL has locked out its regular referees because of a labor dispute. The replacement refs, who have worked all of the preseason and the first three weeks of the regular season, have been much maligned and rightly so. They don’t have control of the games, they don’t seem to know the rules and, this Monday night, they actually cost the Green Bay Packers a win.
While I am I die-hard Bears fan and never want the Packers to win, even I had to admit that the Pack shouldn’t have lost and the refs made a tremendous mistake. The Packers’ opponent, the Seattle Seahawks, were down by five points with almost no time on the clock. The Seahawks’ quarterback heaved a Hail Mary to the end zone, which was intercepted by the Packers, though a Seahawks player also had his hand on the ball. The refs incorrectly ruled that the Seahawks’ player had possession and had scored a game-winning touchdown. Chaos ensued and the Packers and their fans felt rightly robbed.
For those of you who can’t really understand the level of outrage from Packer fans and NFL fans in general, this should help.
It has been refreshing to see that most of the anger hasn’t been directed at the replacement officials. Most people seem to understand that the replacement officials are way in over their heads and they really are doing the best they can. The NFL owners and Commissioner Roger Goodell are taking most of the heat for locking out the regular officials in the first place and refusing to do what is necessary to get them back on the field.
Even though they really screwed up the game, I feel bad for the replacement refs. They really need an extra measure of grace because they’re being asked to do something that is nearly impossible. The NFL rulebook makes the Mosaic Law look like a paint-by-numbers book. There are so many rules, the game is so fast, the game is played by world-class athletes, there are 60,000 screaming fans in the stadium and millions more huddled at home around the TV. We cannot imagine the pressure that they’re under so it’s nice that people are extending the grace to them that we would all want if placed in their position.
We all live by grace on a daily basis. Unfortunately we don’t realize the amount of grace we need so we’re unwilling to extend that grace to anyone else. God constantly pours his grace upon us: when we sin or when we avoid temptation, when we get hired or when we get fired, when we succeed or when we fail. It’s easy to see how we need grace; that should push us to see the same need in others, whether that’s NFL refs, replacement refs or the annoying guy in the cubicle next to ours.
How do you make yourself more aware of others’ need for grace?