Are replacement refs diminishing the entertainment quality of the game?

For my post I decided to discuss the replacement officials in the National Football League as it relates to the entertainment quality to the viewer. NFL football is notoriously popular with television viewers; however the recent NFL labor dispute with the regular officials, has caused some concern over the league’s appeal. Pro football is a multimillion dollar business which hinges on its popularity. But with viewers becoming upset over botched calls and sluggish games, is the entertainment quality of watching football really diminished by substitute referees?

Some would argue yes, as illustrated in the New York Times article I read on this topic titled “In N.F.L, the Show Goes On and On” (Borden, 2012). This article points to the obvious slowing of the game (rate of play) which may draw some fans to change the channel. NFL fans have been used to a fast paced high scoring game, now it seems the rhythm and tempo have vanished. Most of the criticism for this is pointed at the replacement officials, who are not accustomed to working nationally televised games. They are accountable for keeping the game moving, enforcing penalties smoothly and quickly, and moving to and from mandatory network commercial breaks. They are a key piece to a smooth broadcast. The stops and starts also affect the finished product delivered to fans and the most exciting part of football, the scoring.

This reflects the point covered in class 9/17 on pg.1 of the slides, Deming’s economic chain reaction. To stay in business a company must capture a larger market, through improved productivity, better use of resources, and fewer mistakes and delays. The NFL has a setback in their system and the replacement officials provide a large source of variation to the process. This variation caused by the officials can result in product failures, unhappy customers, and higher costs. So in some ways the entertainment quality to me has been reduced. I mean I don’t mind watching three hour games, but I want to see some vertical throws and some fast paced action, not referee huddles and on field confusion about a ball spot.

Conversely every year, long, slow games are always prevalent. Football is a lucky game full of hops and bounces and the results can be unusual. According the article, ratings haven’t slipped and fans still tune in on Sunday. And I’m pretty sure they will continue to. Each week I’m sure the officials are working to improve. This incremental improvements approach (Kaizen) is necessary to get better on a continual basis, little by little to increase the overall process of officiating. However with on field system errors the finished product could suffer.  Do you think the entertainment quality for football viewers and fans is diminished or reduced as a result of replacement officials in the NFL?


Want to Save Millions? Watch Your Milliliters.

In today’s fast-paced world, corporations cannot stress enough on quality. With increased globalization and the advent of the Internet and social media, people not only have more choices but they are also aware of those choices.

With the clutter of marketing messages consumers are exposed to on a daily basis, brand loyalty is becoming harder to build and maintain. If a customer today has a bad experience with a particular product, he or she is not only likely to switch to a competing brand, but can also be expected to share that unsatisfactory experience with friends, family and others on social networking sites.

Soft Drink Manufacturing Facility

Operations management plays a significant role in the maintenance of quality in an organization’s products and processes. One of the most popular methods for quality control is Statistical Process Control (SPC), an analytical decision-making tool that facilitates the monitoring and control of processes. It allows one to examine a process in order to detect any variation in it that might require correction.

For instance, at a soft drink manufacturing plant, SPC may be used in the production process in which the finished product is filled into PET bottles. The cola filled into a 500mL is hardly ever exactly 500 milliliters; it could be 500.04mL, 499.98mL, 499.93mL, etc. Statistical process control will use a sample of bottles filled at a particular plant to determine the variation in the average volume filled.

I came across a practical application of SPC during an internship at a global manufacturer of consumer goods. A Statistical Process Control analysis at a shampoo-manufacturing facility revealed that the liquid volume filled in 400mL-shampoo bottles was consistently ranging between 400.4mL and 400.9mL. Although this is even less than half a milliliter, a large company could have suffered significant unnecessary costs if consumers were constantly given more than 400mL shampoo in the long run.

Stages of Statistical Process Control

The management suspected that the volume irregularity was not due to a natural or common cause. Control charts constructed for the bottle-filling process confirmed this notion. The variation lay outside the control limits and was therefore due to an assignable cause not part of the original process design. It turned out that one of the levers in the filling machinery was not functioning correctly and allowed more liquid to enter the shampoo bottles than it was designed to fill. The SPC analysis consequently allowed us to identify this problem fairly early and re-calibrate the equipment before much money was lost.

An article by Manus Rungtusanatham in the Journal of Operations Management states that the benefits of SPC are much more than just improved quality and cost cutting. Research has shown that the implementation of statistical process control in production environments works to motivate process operators. As these front-line workers become more satisfied with their jobs, they are more motivated towards continuous improvement and high quality.

With all its advantages, SPC does have some limitations. When performed regularly, continuous inspection can be quite expensive. While the cost may be justified for a large manufacturer such as P&G, is Statistical Process Control as relevant for smaller companies too?