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Controversial Monday Night Football ending puts officiating in the spotlight

The uproar over replacement officials reached a new high after the Monday night game between Green Bay and Seattle ended on a controversial call. The officials ruled the play a touchdown, but many believe it should have been called a game ending interception.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - The uproar over replacement officials reached a new high after the Monday night game between Green Bay and Seattle ended on a controversial call. The officials ruled the play a touchdown, but many believe it should have been called a game ending interception.

It was just the latest call that many fans believe was botched by officials who aren’t used to managing games at the National Football League’s level, while veteran referees remain locked out due to a labor dispute with league administration.

The cameras are everywhere at sporting events and catch every controversial or missed call by the replacement referees. The prime-time games on Sunday and Monday nights have more than 30 cameras each documenting every aspect of the game and nothing is being watched with more scrutiny than the officials.

“Every sporting event, and particularly every NFL game, is recorded from a different angle, so it’s very easy to be critical,” said Dennis Deninger of the Department of Sport Management in Syracuse University’s Falk College.

Deninger is the author of the new book “Sports on Television” and a 25-year Emmy Award winning former ESPN producing executive. He says the officials are an easy target, with lots of people shooting at them.

He says the NFL and the television networks are partners, with billions of dollars at play between them.

Deninger says the officiating is not going to impact their economics until and only if ratings start to fall off because fans have become fed up with bad calls. But he doesn’t think the NFL will lose many viewers.

"They're not going to refuse to watch and miss football because of what's happening with the referees. They can complain a lot but it's self punishment and people are not into self punishment, so I do not suspect you're going to see ratings go down. The volume of criticism may go up, but I don't think ratings are going to drop,” he said.

In fact, Monday night’s game between the Packers and the Seahawks was the highest rated Monday night game of the season so far for ESPN. Meanwhile, SportsCenter may have set a record for the most watched installment IN ESPN’s history, a span that covers 30 + years.

Even President Barack Obama has weighed in on the controversial final call. He says the disputed ending indicates that it is time to resolve the labor dispute and get the regular referees back on the field.

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