Prior to this season’s NCAA tournament, I was never one to overly criticize the officials.
They have a difficult job, and while it is one that is well-compensated, it’s also one that is never praised. Regardless of how well you call a game, you are going to be yelled at by coaches and you are going to be ripped by the fans. That’s just the way it works.
This tournament changed things, however. Far too many games were decided by a whistle instead of the play of the athletes on the floor. Whether it was the result of lane violations (there were three in the final seconds of tournament games), blown out of bounds calls, the apparent inability to understand the block/charge rule or games that are called like Syracuse and Ohio State, the one thing that every fan seemed to agree on is that we need, as termed by Wes Rucker, a ‘refolution‘.
Jay Bilas wrote on the changes that he wants to see enacted on Friday, and one of them will be quite popular with the TV watching fanbase:
College officials have become far too demonstrative in making their calls. Whether it is signaling a charge or identifying a player who has been fouled, there is no reason to jump around, signal the call three or four times or have a scowl on one’s face while doing it. Indicate the call in a reasonable and dispassionate manner, without so many laughable and silly gestures, and report the call to the scorer’s table without emotion.
So much for TV Teddy Valentine.
The bigger issue that both gentlemen bring up is that there needs to be some way to punish officials that mess up. These guys are getting paid a lot of money to do their job — money that, apparently, we cannot afford to give to the players — and there should be a standard of performance. If you consistently mess up your TPS reports, you get fired. If a coach consistently loses games, he gets fired. But if a ref consistently blows calls, what happens?
They are independent contractors. There is no governing body associated with the referees. There is no single person in charge of officiating.
We can come up with new rules and rule changes and make things as difficult as possible for the players and the officials each and every season, but if we want games to be called better, the answer is simple: there needs to be repercussions for poorly officiated games and blown calls that affect the outcome.