Rules of the Game

I used to coach basketball. I was actually pretty good at it. We won a lot of games, probably lost more than I like, but had a good run for the most part.

People ask me why I quit coaching and if I will ever return to it. Well, part of me itches to return. I love the logic of the game, the X’s and O’s, and the overall strategy. Also it is always fun bossing people around at practice. But then I watch last night’s NCAA championship game and am quickly reminded why I quit in the first place and why I will never return:


Yes, referees. Not only are they bad at their job, they yell at you when you point that fact out to them. So rude! I mean if I did my job as well as they did theirs, well, I would be out of said job.

I hear arguments about how difficult it is to ref these games and that it is basically impossible to do the job properly. I wonder how you would react if your doctor misdiagnosed you with Ebola and said ‘Well, human biology is so hard. I mean really hard. You really have no idea how complicated this stuff is. Oops’.

What makes matters worse is there is not another game that is so dependent on the way the game is called. Will it be a closely called game or not? Will there be consistency or will it be random (I know the answer to that one)? All of these factors shift the game play tremendously.

For an example on the referee influence, there are about 25%-30% of possessions in basketball that end in a foul. Last night it was over 30%, but not so much where the game was significantly different than others. In other words, all of the squawking and talking about the refs for this one game can be applied to EVERY close game.

That is a problem.

Sure, there is a lot of subjectivity to what is and what is not a foul. So much so that it does render the job almost impossible. But that arbitrary nature lets these refs off the hook way too much. There really needs to be serious decisions made about what are fouls and what are not, and have universal agreement on how to call a game.

No more of this ‘let’s see how the game is played and then adapt’. Complete uniformity. Or at least an attempt. Because right now, too many close games are being heavily tilted by referee opinions.

Just ask Tim Donaghy, he made a fortune off of it.