Back in 2005 when I was a freshman in high school I was watching one of my very first Varsity Basketball games and heard this chant from our crowd that has stuck with me all these years. “I’m blind, I’m deaf, I wanna be a ref” and at the time of course I joined in and was yelling it too! Ten years later I now realize how hard of a job being a ref actually is even at a high school level. Not many people truly appreciate how difficult it is to make split second calls especially when you don’t always have a great angle, or have instant replay.
Never in my short 20 years of faithfully watching sports multiple times per week have I seen a penalty or flag be overturned from a player arguing with the official. So my question to you is why? what is the point honestly? I’m no professional nor am I clueless and I know that the right call isn’t always the call that is made. Whether your watching an NBA game, NFL game, MLB game, NHL game, all the way down to dodgeball at the local SkyZone you will see a player argue with the man in stripes.
There are young athletes all over the world watching these players every move, especially in today’s world with how the media is involved everywhere you look. Newsflash Russell Westbrook!! Your supposed to be a role model. So as most of you all know the NBA playoffs recently started and something happened in the last week of the regular season that I would love to bring up, and yes it does have to deal with Mr. Westbrook. One rule in the NBA is they only allow you to get a certain amount of technical fouls per year before they suspend you for “x” amount of games. Westbrook passed the allowed amount on the second to last game where he fouled a player, got into a heated argument with the ref, and got the technical foul. It was clear to everyone in the game, to the official, and probably to everyone watching that wasn’t a fan of Oklahoma City. So thats why I was very confused when later the next day the NBA announced that they were revoking the technical which allowed Russell Westbrook to play in the last game of the season. Now I can only really think of one reason that this could ever be allowed. That reason is TV Ratings! Sports, yes it is entertainment but even more important than that is that its a business. And what better way to get a boost in ratings than a 3 team race for 1 spot in the playoffs? So what I think happened is they realized who the Thunder were playing(Memphis Grizzlies) in their last game and they knew that if he didn’t play then 1) they wouldn’t attract as big a crowd, 2) They most likely wouldn’t compete and eventually would lose the game, 3) The NBA wanted the Thunder to be the last team to make the playoffs and wanted them to have a better chance. Could I be wrong? Absolutely, but just think about it for a second. If my 3rd option is correct and the NBA was trying to get a specific team in for whatever there reasoning, that opens up another topic that nobody wants to believe exists and thats “fixed games”.
Before I get way to off topic I want to switch my focus back to the men wearing black and white, or at least the people always yelling at them. So yes of course there has always been arguments between players and refs but I’d say for the last 15 years or so the number of altercations has only gone up. So what has changed? I would argue that one thing that hasn’t is the Refs. My opinion is the players playing these games at ALL levels have changed. So I understand every parent wants the best for their kids, and I know this first hand being one myself. I get that you want the best team, the best coach, the best shoes, and so on but I think as a parent you need to teach your children to respect people of “power”. I want to use that term loosely when talking about sports. When I say power I don’t mean the police, or the President, although I do agree that you should educate your kids about that, I’m not here to discuss that right now. What I mean is the teams coach, or for the sake of this article I am mainly talking about the refs. I have seen so many cases over the years about parents becoming delusional while watching their kids play.I think we have all seen those parents in the crowd screaming at the court when a foul is called on their kid right? Where do you think these kids are getting it from? It starts with their parents thinking that their athlete is untouchable, then he/she turns around and is watching professionals doing the same thing so I mean come on, why not do it? I think everyone needs to relax with all these accusations saying the refs are cheating, or calling fouls only on one team. Look I understand maybe it happens, I won’t say its not possible but not every cop is crooked, and not every ref is a fake.
I hope we all haven’t already forgot about that incident that happened only a handful of years ago in the NFL which should have resulted in everyone signing a thank you card to the refs of the league. For those who forgot or never heard, the refs went on strike with the league and we had to watch these second class refs try to look like they knew what they were doing out there and it was god awful. These professional refs are completely under-appreciated around the world. Hopefully I didn’t get too off topic here today and you were able to follow along! Oh yeah and if you wanna make a change in the sports world, go ahead and learn how to be an official and show us how its done! And get that extra pay check while your at it :)!