After what will no doubt go down as one of the most embarrassing end-of-game plays in any sport, the NFL quickly reached an agreement with its referees on a new contract and ended the lockout. In the process of doing so it was no doubt reminded of the rule that is the title of this piece. Whatever the referees were earning (compared to the cost of players, coaches, stadiums and the rest), it had to be minuscule. And yet the enthusiasm for the game by the people who mattered could be ruined by under-qualified and under-supported referees. The fans need to believe that the ones who won the game are the ones that deserve it. There has to be integrity in the process.
Now, since this isn’t a sports blog you might accurately guess that my real point is not about football. It has to do with the biggest game in the country, the one that is played every day. It is our financial markets. It is a game where the fans are the many millions of investors large and small. And they need to believe that the winners and losers are the ones who fairly deserved it. A market completely without oversight is no more of a functioning market than a football game completely without referees is a functioning football game.
The referees get plenty of complaints from the players and the fans. And investors and businessmen complain about the SEC and other regulators. But it wouldn’t be a game without them, and a great game needs great referees.