Fans Critical of NFL Officials on Social

Heather Satterfield Heather Satterfield, Marketing Manager

In sports there’s always winners and losers, but sometimes those end results are questioned by fans and spectators. This weekend’s NFL games for the AFC and NFC championships were no different. The letdown mostly involves the calls (or lack thereof) by the referees. What’s interesting and fun is to watch all of this unfolding on social media.

If use Sysomos Search to look at the social activity on Twitter surrounding the NFL referees, we can see exactly when the officials were under fire. At the 6pm mark you can see a large spike in activity of people on Twitter discussing the NFL referees. It was right around the time when the New Orleans Saints had a third-and-10 with 1:48 to play, Saints player Tommylee Lewis got hammered in a helmet-to-helmet hit, along with pass interference from the Los Angeles Rams Nickle Robey-Coleman, but neither resulted in a flag from an official. To those watching it was a complete no-call on both accounts. Here’s a look at the play, make your own judgements…

We then see another spike around the 9pm mark, which is around the same time of a big call made by officials during the AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and the Kansas City Chiefs. Just when we thought this game would go pretty controversy-free it took a turn. The Chiefs had just punted and it seemed as though Patriots returner, Julian Edelman, touched the ball, which the Chiefs picked up and scored. Ruling on the field was a touchdown by the Chiefs, but after a lengthy review the officials overturned their call sending Kansas City fans reeling.

In the midst of all the activity between these two games and two specific calls there were close to 29k mentions from 28k users. Of the people discussing the NFL officials the sentiment is 58% negative. While to the fan base it’s doesn’t seem fair and both calls sparked headlines, the most re-tweeted tweets are the stars here. The creativity people have in these moments of being miffed by what they feel is a rip-off is amusing. Here are a number of the best tweets from these moments:

With the big game approaching it will be interesting to see who gets more attention on social during the game, the commercials or the officials.


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