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September 24th, 2012
06:06 PM ET

Letters to the President #1344: 'Don't blame the ref'

Reporter's Note: President Obama is a sports fan. I don't know if he is a letter fan.

Dear Mr. President,

Perhaps you've watched some of this chaos in the NFL with the substitute referees at work? If not, let me tell you, it has been as entertaining as a beagle in a room full of ducks. I think if you turned loose a half dozen Joe Bidens on the field it could not be any whackier than it already is. These guys are flipping flags to the turf over real infractions, imaginary infractions, and some that I'm pretty sure they are just making up. "That's ten yards for making a face!"

Now, we should be sympathetic to a point. After all, without these intrepid souls the NFL would not be playing at all and the country would be doomed. I am perfectly happy to have presidential campaigns come around only every four years, but an autumn without football would be a travesty.

Actually what has interested me most has been the way that teams are seemingly adjusting to this free-for-all state of law...or lack of the same. As best I can make out, teams are trying some questionable tactics precisely because they think the subs won't catch them, and teams are abandoning other, far less controversial tricks because they are sure those will now mysteriously draw whistles.

There is a political lesson in all this: evolution matters. Sometimes pols on both sides of the aisle waste massive amounts of time complaining about the opposition; saying, in effect, "We can't get anything done, because they are cheating!"

First, I can't imagine which referees they are hoping will hop into the D.C. Game and sort things out. And second, if these leaders really wanted to make a difference, I think they might be better served to simply accept that things have changed, and then get on with the business of playing the game. After all, you can blame the refs or your opponents all you want. In the end, the game goes on.

Call if you get a moment, ok?

Regards,
Tom

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