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Q&A: NFL assigns officiating crews for games

NFL makes referee assignments

In professional games and playoff football games, who assigns the officials?

The NFL puts together crews of officials for the regular season, and assigns those crews to games each week. The crews are made up of seven people — referee, umpire, head linesman, line judge, field judge, side judge and back judge.

It's important to note that NFL officials are not full-time employees, but people who have other jobs and work the NFL games on the side. The NFL is the only major sport that doesn't employ full-time officials.

The crews are then evaluated after each game, and the eight crews with the highest grades at the end of the regular season are rewarded by being assigned to work playoff games. The three rated at the top get two playoff games.

But the rules also prohibit first- and second-year officials from being assigned to playoff games. They are replaced by veterans who score the highest at the various positions.

The rules change again for the Super Bowl. The highest-rated individuals at each of the seven positions who have at least five years of experience and have worked the playoffs are assigned to work the championship game.

Sampling determines figure

How does the government figure the amount of people unemployed if those people are not getting unemployment checks?

Good question. As you note, the government can't simply base the unemployment rate on the number of people filing for unemployment benefits, because some people have run out of benefits or never apply for them at all.

Instead, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducts a monthly sample survey called the Current Population Survey. There are about 60,000 households in the survey, or about 110,000 people.

Those households and people are chosen from around the country so the sampling is representative for the entire country.

The Census Bureau then sends 2,200 employees to interview people in those 60,000 households. From those interviews comes information that the BLS uses to classify people by employment status, and extrapolate an unemployment rate.

The government estimates that there's a 90 percent chance its conclusions are within 290,000 of the actual number it might get by conducting a total census.

That may sound like it could be quite a bit off. But consider this: The December report estimated that about 154 million people were employed and 14.5 million were unemployed, for an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent. Adding 290,000 to the 154 million employed number, or subtracting from it, isn't enough to distort the total unemployment picture.

If you want to read about this process in greater detail, visit

Q&A: NFL assigns officiating crews for games 01/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 4:56pm]
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