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Improving officiating

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Joined: 11 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: 04/12/17 3:59 pm    ::: Improving officiating Reply Reply with quote

So here's a look at the problem at the high school level, which is where it all starts:

And of course one huge issue is fan, coach and player attitude towards officials. Too many people complain and not enough people act -- if you really want to make refs better, get a whistle and start doing CYO games.

"Oh, I could never do that," people say, while screaming at the ref during games and complaining that poor officiating spoils the game. If you can't do it yourself, just quit yelling at the ref -- that seems fair, doesn't it?

And finally, what I hated most about officiating was getting yelled at for a good call when I was in perfect position -- and knuckleheads 80 feet away who've never read a rule book would go nuts. If I made a bad call, and I made plenty, then the abuse was easier to take.

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PostPosted: 04/12/17 4:07 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Fans mostly don't care whether the call was good or bad, only whether it went for or against their team.

Why can't we sit in the park like other boys and girls?
Why do we have to walk in the subway tunnel?

Just keep walking

Joined: 11 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: 04/12/17 4:21 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

pilight wrote:
Fans mostly don't care whether the call was good or bad, only whether it went for or against their team.

Of course, but maybe some cooler heads need to prevail -- that is, if fans want better officiating. Then again, as you say, what they really want is more calls that favor their team ...

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PostPosted: 04/12/17 4:43 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Officials are trained and selected by a Darwinian system and are, by definition, collectively evolved to the best adapted state they can be.

The system that trains and selects officials is itself a Darwinian one, evolved over the past 127 years. Thus, by definition, the system is at the highest state of evolution and does the best job of training and selecting that it can.

In sum, we have the best officials at the various levels that, as a practical matter, we can have.

Officials make mistakes, sometimes big ones. So do players. So do coaches. So do basketball writers. So do basketball fans who discuss the game in person or online. So does evolution itself. So does all of nature. It's all part of the normal, variation about the mean, natural human condition.

Therefore, I've always believed it a waste of time for anyone -- players, coaches or fans -- to complain about officiating in a recreational sports game. And it makes for redundant, uninformative discussions on fan boards.

When I played in high school, only the captain was ever allowed to speak to an official -- not even the coach -- and only in very limited circumstances. To do otherwise was a technical foul. There was NO SUCH THING as "working an official". Nor was there any such thing in the Ivy League, where I was a basketball manager for a few years. The coaches were all pipe smoking professors of physical education, who made $10 extra per week to coach basketball.

I also entered the officiating profession while in college in NYC. I found it unfulfilling and didn't last long, never progressing beyond the high school junior varsity level.

The one thing I wish they would change is to eliminate video replays. Just make a call and get on with the game. Of course, I'm willing to do that because I have always fully accepted reffing mistakes as a normal part of the game. Fans who have grown up in the video replay era -- wherein the TV station will replay the ref's purported mistake over and over -- apparently can't tolerate normal human mistakes. So, now we have this Frankenstein-Zapruder system where wasted minutes go by to jiggle tenths of a second on the game clock, while other game situations can't be reviewed at all.

And I also advocate immediate expulsion from the game of any coach or player who says any word to, or directed at, any official at any time for any reason -- no matter how sotto voce. Perhaps if new basketball fans grew up watching a game where no one was allowed to complain to a ref, they wouldn't do so 60 years from now on fan boards.

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PostPosted: 04/13/17 9:23 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Excellent point about this being the best system we can hope for, given the present circumstances.

But conceivably a small shift in those circumstances could result in a somewhat deeper pool of available talent, and thus better officiating.

Two things spring to mind:

1) Better education of fans, players and coaches. For example, I have looked for a rules' quiz for players and coaches that would focus on the practical issues they deal with all the time and there isn't one. It could be 10 questions about such things as when a player is in the frontcourt, what are the requirements for drawing a charge, etc.

The more people know, the less they'll complain.

2) A push to make it clear that if fans want better officiating, they need to tone down their abuse. This is obvious, but never publicized. A PR campaign might help a bit, and any help would be welcome.

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PostPosted: 04/13/17 2:34 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

One thing that might help is to require players to ref when they reach a certain level of play. If college players were required to officiate inter-mural basketball at their own schools or AAU games or junior and senior high games it might give them a better perspective. Make it a condition of their scholarships.

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