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Home arrow Blog arrow Hand In The Cookie Jar

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Hand In The Cookie Jar Print
Written by Mike Noel   
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
hand in the cookie jar
I've ranted many times about the unfairness shown by NBA refs when making calls. These rants are often fueled by the blatant "mistakes" that I see during games. There's obvious favoritism towards star player and there are obvious grudges between some refs and players. Over all of this, the NBA is 100% silent about review and/or recourse for bad calls in a game. The public perception is that refs can do whatever they want and we just have to trust to their integrity that they will do the right thing. Up until now that trust has been grudgingly given but the recent gambling scandal threatens to make a mockery of NBA refereeing.
If you haven't heard yet let me summarize: the FBI has been investigating (at least) one NBA ref and has found evidence that the ref has been gambling on games that he has been refereeing. The ref has been fired from the NBA and is planning to turn himself in this week. In exchange for leniency he intends to cooperate with the FBI and tell them "everything" which may include other officials in the NBA.
This devastating blow to the NBA is just fuel on the fire for the thousands of NBA conspirators out there. These conspirators have been claiming for years that NBA games are fixed and that it's all tied up with the mafia. Apparently they were right (but I believe they were accidentally right) and I'm sure they are having a hey day with all of this. Despite being very disappointed with the quality of NBA refereeing, I've never been one on the conspiratorial camp. It seemed that that was going too far. Although, I remember having a discussion with a co-worker years ago about the NBA and betting. I remember telling him that I wouldn't be surprised to find out some day that there was price fixing going on. My reasoning was that there was just way too much money involved for there not to be some sort of abuse to happen.
So what can the NBA do to fix the problem of a severely damaged reputation? I think that the best option is a public review committee that is set up to review calls from games. This would be after the fact, not during the game play itself. Staff from any NBA team would have a window (say two days) to report up to two calls for review. The committee would review the calls and if there was an obvious mistake, the referee who committed the mistake would be given "points". At the end of the regular season, the refs with the fewest points would be the ones used for the playoff games.
This sort of review process needs to be public. The purpose is to prove to the NBA fans that referees are accountable to someone. Referees can't just make arbitrary calls without being subject to review and possible action. The consequence to the referees is financial and that would probably be enough pressure. Remember, though, that this is really a PR thing for the NBA. It is not about disciplining referees, it's about publicly demonstrating integrity with refs.
A system like I've described would probably do a lot for the NBA. It would bring refs more into the spotlight of a game. The game commentators would have something else to talk about during the game, sports writers would have more to write about, and fans would have more to talk about. Games would linger for a few days as people waited to hear what the review committee had to say about a particular flagrant mistake. Over all it increases exposure in the NBA which also increases revenue.
I guess we'll see what happens.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 August 2007 )

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