Now that local basketball is over, I’ve just got to write something about officials. We’ve got to do something, but I don’t know what.
The various leagues wanted to “clean up” the game this season. They wanted to call more fouls and cut down on the physical play. They did this, and by Christmas I think you could see positive results. Except for the NBA, which ruined itself years ago, the game is better. For instance, last season the middle school tournament was a foul fest, while this year was much better.
With that said, the actual quality of the average official is about the same or perhaps a little better as in years past, except at one level ‑‑ college. I see just about every Lady Raider and Raider game and I sit there in amazement.
As the game begins to speed up late in the first half, and for a longer period in the second, easy calls like walking and out of bounds are missed, and the foul calls are often wrong or fouls are ignored.
Many officials have poor game management skills such as mechanics, hustle and people skills. Too many officials spend way too much time visiting in player and coaching huddles. I don’t know how coaches stand it, and the fans would be furious if they knew what the officials are paid. C-USA officials are no better than the Sun Belt, and it’s often the same people.
The problem cannot be solved with money. They will NOT do a better job if you pay them more. Perhaps more training would help. I think the problem is numbers. We just don’t have enough good officials, and the ones we do have are evidently sent to “big” games at “big” schools. Those schools pay even more serious money. They are certainly not assigned an MTSU game unless it’s an “off” night.
A local coach told me once that going from two officials to three meant one thing. They would miss more calls. Maybe so, maybe not, but the solution is certainly not four officials, nor is it going back to two.
The problem is also the players and coaches. Players are bigger, stronger and faster, and coaches have great facilities, preparation skills and way too many assistants (all with opinions).
Officials often appear to be lost and unsure of what to do. They often appear as if they have no real confidence in their decisions. They also spend a lot of time at the scorer’s desk asking the clock operator to correct a timing mistake that the floor official made or to review. Sure, they want to get it right, but my goodness, pay attention. It’s really embarrassing when a call is replayed on the video board and the official was clearly wrong.
Now everyone knows it, including the official.
This is not going to get any better next year because the game will be faster. The three officials in the recent Blackman–Oak Ridge boy’s championship game were right on the edge (?) of losing control of the game. The players were just too good, too fast and playing with great effort.
I wonder if officials ever get home and run a tape of games they have called. Do they ever wonder why 5,000 people booed them or booed a certain call. Players and coaches watch game film. Do officials? They should. Something needs to be done, but I’m not sure what.
* The answers to last week’s Final Four Quiz from the Final Four 75th Anniversary from a 2013 “Sports Illustrated” are on the left. These are their choices for the top 10 Final Four players in history. There is also a matching quiz with the answers below.
1. Bill Russell_____ A. Born in Tennessee
2. Kareem A. Jabbar____ B. former Globe Trotter
3. Larry Bird ______ C. Sky Hook
4. Bill Walton ______ D. Zeke from Cabin Creek
5. Bill Bradley ______ E. Bad feet
6. Oscar Robertson____ F. From French Lick
7. Wilt Chamberlain____ G. Started 4 Championship games
8. Magic Johnson _____ H. The politician
9. Christian Laettner ____ I. First undefeated NCAA champion
10. Jerry West ______ J. Played a game in the Boro