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The Mass Media

Problems With NBA Officiating

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Three NBA referee debate a call. 

The NBA has gone through many changes over the years. One of the more prominent ways it has changed is the refereeing. You ask any older NBA fan, and they would gladly chew your ear off reminiscing about the good old days when players could push and shove each other without a foul. Nowadays something as little as a taunt could warrant a foul. I’ve heard people refer to refereeing in all sorts of debates: Jordan vs. Lebron, “Old School” vs. “New School”, and even Pancakes or Waffles (Obviously Waffles). Jokes aside this is a real concern. This season alone there have been a bunch of games that were either extended because of fouls or dramatically changed because of them.
One of the biggest reasons people hate the refereeing is because of how long the referees take looking at the foul, especially if it is late in the game. During the last two minutes of the game, a ref can stop the game to look at fouls or out of bounds calls. Sometimes this could be crucial, and it could warrant the ref taking a long time looking at the play but other times they are looking at the same camera angle for way too long and way too often. One of the newer changes that they introduced into the NBA is the coach’s challenge. The coach’s challenge works in the NBA the same as it does in the NFL. When a foul is called, a coach can use their challenge and force the ref to review the play. On paper this shouldn’t be too much of a problem until you realize that refs don’t usually overturn anything unless they got the call obviously wrong. What this means is that if a coach challenges a close call the ref will almost never overturn it, but they review it for what can seem like forever in a close game. And this is not exclusive to coach’s challenges, they take forever on almost every review.
On the other hand, of course you would want the referees to be diligent when looking at the call, but there could be more efficient ways of doing it. What makes this frustrating is that there is an easy solution. While there are only three referees on a basketball court at a time there will almost always be a room full of refs watching that same game with tons of available camera angles at their headquarters in Secaucus, New Jersey. Usually when there is a controversial call in a nationally televised game, they would bring a veteran referee in this room to explain the call as well as information about the rule to the audience. There have been so many times where the refs on the court are arguing a call and the ref on T.V. already said if it were a foul. If you just let one of the refs in Secaucus have all the camera angles, the game would go faster, and it would be more enjoyable for everyone. With the way technology has evolved over the years this is definitely possible to accomplish.
At the end of the day, refereeing is a hard job. Refs are human so they will make mistakes and they will be heavily criticized for those mistakes. Sadly, refereeing is not a job that has a lot of glory. I’ve never heard a casual NBA fan say, ‘Man, that ref had a great game’. What the casual NBA fan wants at the end of the day is a good, fast paced game and if the refereeing process could be more efficient everyone would be happy.

About the Contributor
Josemanuel Cruz, Sports Writer