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Football refs

Posted: September 27, 2012 7:40 p.m.
Updated: September 28, 2012 5:00 a.m.

People here in Kershaw County and South Carolina take their football seriously. Though the Carolina Panthers are based in nearby Charlotte, the college game still reigns supreme here, but Sunday afternoons still attract plenty of fans who like to watch the National Football League games. Some of those contests have been thrown into disarray by substitute officials who have taken the place of the league’s regular officials, who were locked out by team owners in a labor dispute.

Things came to a head Monday night when a game was mistakenly awarded to the Seattle Seahawks and jerked from the Green Bay Packers. The Seahawks threw a last-seconds desperation pass -- a “Hail Mary,” in football jargon -- which was intercepted by a Packers defensive back. But a Seattle player wrested the ball away after the play should have been dead, and refs ruled the Seahawks had won. That intensified a firestorm of criticism that had been building through the first weeks of the season.

The incident engendered emergency negotiations between the league and the players’ union, and regular officials were scheduled to work last night’s Baltimore Ravens-Cleveland Browns game. A new contract is expected to be ratified this weekend. Labor disputes often don’t draw such intense public scrutiny, even when they involve schools, such as the recent teachers’ strike in Chicago. But when the gridiron is involved, things get serious. Anyone who doubts that just doesn’t understand football fans.

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