Thursday, February 26, 2004

BAD NIGHT FOR NBA OFFICIATING: First they go apecrap on the Grizz, giving out five technicals and throwing out Hubie. Then they blatantly blow a call in Denver, which ended up pretty much directly costing the Nuggets the game--or at least a chance to win the game. I long for the day when the NBA acknowledges officiating errors like the NFL does.

Does it add anything to our understanding of sports to arrange them in order of how much crap you can give the officials? Football would be at the top, followed by soccer; you rarely see anybody get flagged for arguing with an official in football, whereas when a soccer official is surrounded by a crowd of angry players he can yellow card himself out of an unpleasant situation. Baseball would be at the bottom, with basketball slightly above it. Those two groups of people, baseball umps and NBA refs, appear to have a limited ability to handle questions to their authority. Would this be at all because baseball and basketball, with their strike zones and foul calls all done by eye, are just inherently much more subjective sports than football and soccer? Hey, sounds good to me. Football is a completely regulated, rule-based sport; the fouls that are debatable are pass interference and holding and the occasional generous spot of the ball, everything else is more or less provable. Soccer is about the same, with the subjectivity coming from penalties (penalties in the box especially) and offsides calls. Basketball has multiple points of subjectivity, since nearly every contested shot involves some kind of clean-or-dirty judgement. And baseball, in two of its major activities--pitching and running--is entirely in the eye of the official beholder. So--in conclusion--the amount of crap officials take seems to be related to varying levels of subjectivity in the sports themselves. Officials in more subjective sports need to protect themselves more since their sport depends on subjective, personal judgements. That is my learned opinion, considered deeply by me for a good half an hour this morning.

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