OT - Why to me, basketball will always play second fiddle to football

Submitted by CLord on February 26th, 2013 at 4:09 AM

Not news, just a rant after 35 years of watching college basketball if I may be permitted.


Check out the blocking foul that was called on the ISU player in the last moments of regulation....

In football, I always feel like the players and coaches define the outcome (Green Bay/Seattle replacement ref game aside).  But in basketball, I feel like I'm watching a script half written by the players and coaches, and far too frequently half written by the referees.  This isn't news, but just an observation that at times the preposterous calls by basketball refs obviously meant to add poetry to a game, instead make me feel like I've suddenly been tranported to a WWE cage match at The Palace.

Understandably, in no sport do referees come in as close contact to screaming, gyrating fans, coaches and opposing coaches as they do in basketball. But with all of the technology that has advanced so many other sports, it's unfortunate basketball hasn't found a way to evolve in some manner to improve referee objectivity and accuracy.  Until that changes, the ominous poetic license employed by referees will continue to define why basketball, despite all of its beauty, will be a second rate sport to me, just a few notches on the WWE scale left of boxing.




February 26th, 2013 at 9:54 AM ^

So, my question is, what woud you do about it?

Basketball is such a fast-paced game that these "judgment calls" are going to have to be made (and yes, sometimes they are really bad).  But should we stop the game for review after every contact, etc.?  If so, we'd probably go from a typical 2 hour game to a chopped up, closer to 3 hour game.

Maybe there's another answer other than instant replay everytime contact is made.  I do think the conferences should review games regularly and provide refs with feedback like "Hey, this was good, or hey you really botched this," etc.  This way the refs can learn.  Last I knew the Big Ten did it for football (but that's the extend of my knowledge).

Football has it's own poetic interjections by refs from time-to-time.  They are less frequent, because calls are significantly less frequent in football, but any time you introduce humans you're going to also introduce human error.  That's not to say it's okay or nothing should happen, but if we can make a change, what should it be?


February 26th, 2013 at 9:54 AM ^

I don't think the reason you state is the true underlying reason for your preference. 

Officials decision can be beffudling in any sport where you don't understand the game.  In football there is a fine line between holding and legal OL play (not to mention defense). On nearly every single play, it seems a penalty could be called.  An uninitiated viewer can't see anything beyond a jumble of crashing bodies, and I suspect most initiated viewers just ignore it also - focusing on the skill positions and the ball.  I feel the same way you do about hockey, but I recognize that I feel that way because of my own ignorance, having never played and having watched less than other sports.  Since i've played basketball and watched a lot of it I personally feel more comfortable with basketball refeering than any other sport.

Of course, officials will make errors in any sport, but if that ruins the game for you I'd recommend watching a few boxing matches and you'll feel much better about the lack of perceived clarity in comparison.


February 26th, 2013 at 9:57 AM ^

I can think of a few occassions just in the last few years where bad calls by the ref helped or hurt Michigan or the Lions.


Iowa 2011, the Sugar Bowl, the pylon touchdown against MSU, the Calvin Johnson noncatch against the Bears, etc.




February 26th, 2013 at 10:30 AM ^

I respect that basketball players are some of the most athletic freaks of nature out there, but the rules of the sport just don't make sense to me.  I understand that a player shouldn't be able to hit a guy's arm while he shoots, but why is it a penalty to just be in the way of someone going toward the basket?  Why should a player be able to jump into a defensive player and throw the ball up to "draw" a foul?  

Deliberately taking penalties at the end of a game can also be beneficial and strategic for a team, which should have no place in sports, though I don't see a way around that with basketball's rules.  


February 26th, 2013 at 12:32 PM ^

In those instances the rule for refs should be to just let them play and put the whistle away.  I hate when players go into the lane totally out of control, but then throw themselves into another player and get bailed out.  The rules allow for play to be more fluid, but refs too often think they need to call everything.


February 26th, 2013 at 11:21 AM ^

I love both.  I give football a small edge because it's a rarer event - 12-13 games vs. 30-35.  Also, being outside on a nice fall day and watching the team is awesome.  But they're both great.


February 26th, 2013 at 11:37 AM ^

I like baskteball but it's tough to watch college with how long the shotclock is. They move the ball around the perimeter so much before actually trying to approach the basket, a luxury the pro guys don't have but it's not very exciting to watch.

Then the longer shot clock also means at the end of games the whole foul, timeout, foul situation is even worse because teams have to start fouling earlier and the 11 seconds difference or whatever it is is an eternity when you consider the end of a basketball game. That's at least 2 extra fouls. Ugh.


February 26th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

I agree with you that basketball will always be second to football and I agree with you that the refs in basketball are an absolute joke.  However, the coaches and players don't always define the outcome and the refs DO find ways to screw football teams over.

With college football, not even the addition of review has taken away the incompetence of the refs at crucial moments.  The refs handed Notre Dame victories in their games against Stanford and Pitt this past season.  That was a big factor in them going to the national title game.  True, ND has been getting away with that kind of shit in South Bend since the beginning of time.  But we also saw clear fuck ups at the end of Oregon/Oklahoma a couple years back and Texas/Nebraska in the Big 12 title game 3 years ago. 

In 2005, Sparty was able to tie us in the 4th quarter and send the game to overtime when Domata Peko returned a non-fumble 74 yards for a score.  They reviewed the play from all angles for several minutes.  Every shot showed Henne's arm clearly going forward before the ball hit the ground.  Play is dead.  After review, the refs STILL gave MSU the touchdown.   

It may not be as common as basketball, but the refs can still decide football outcomes. 


February 26th, 2013 at 12:23 PM ^

The one thing that really irks me about college and pro hoops is the charging call.  Back in the early 80's to late 90's the charge was very rarely called.  You had to be completely set for a charge to be called.  Now, charges are called way too frequently for my liking,  I wish refs would just let them play and put the whistle away.  The pro game has many more flaws than college, travel is rarely called, too much one on one, etc... 

I do like football better as a spectator sport but basketball is the ultimate sport to play. 

Avant's Hands

February 26th, 2013 at 12:25 PM ^

I agree with several of the points people have made above about basketball officiating, but that is just basketball to me. I don't know how you fix it. Am I the only one here, though, who has basketball as third fiddle to football and hockey? I've just always been a hockey fan. In fact, I like watching the NHL more than any other pro sports league. It probably helped a little bit that during my teens and early 20s Michigan was a juggernaut in hockey and...slightly worse than that in basketball.

As much as I enjoy the year that our basketball team is putting together, watching the hockey team play has just about cancelled it out. And hockey referees aren't perfect, but they very rarely decide a game (although I am aware of some horrible no goal calls in Michigan games in the past that screwed us). 

EZ Bud

February 26th, 2013 at 12:38 PM ^

I actually don't have a problem with that initial no call. However, the ref then calls a foul on ISU for a play with far less contact. That is inexcusable. If you decide to not call the charge, swallow the whistle until the horn or something flagrant.


February 26th, 2013 at 5:13 PM ^

Particularly since the KU guy got the ball out to a guy for an open 3, about the best possible outcome. That's a soccer officiating move, and obviously getting 2 foul shots down 2 is a bigger "advantage" than a buzzer 3, but it didn't seem like the call needed to be made.

Drunk Uncle

February 26th, 2013 at 12:53 PM ^

I LOVE Michigan football. To illustrate this love, a young Drunk Uncle cried when Michigan lost to Minnesota in 1986 -- "why can't they just win them all". 

However, the NCAA tournament is about the best thing going in sports which is why I love basketball, equally.


February 26th, 2013 at 1:19 PM ^

I can't disagree with you there.  If a team is up by 4 or more with less than 2 minutes left, the game can be extended and it seems like the game goes on for an extra half hour, that is def brutal.  Lets not act like football is much better with all of the replays and commercials, and half the time the refs get the replays wrong.  But the replays in basketball are getting ridiculous in length also.  Besides Michigan football and basketball, I realy don't have time to sit and watch games that are not Michigan games.  I do love europan soccer, and absolutely love the fact that there are no commercials and game last 2 hours, every single game.


February 26th, 2013 at 3:00 PM ^

Huh? I would argue that it's much more egregious (and maybe even more common) for football games to be decided by blown calls than basketball games. Since there are far fewer football games than there are basketball games, the stakes are much higher in football. Has there ever been a basketball equivalent to the infamous fifth down game that allowed Colorado to win the most fraudulent national championship in history in 1990? What about Nebraska's infamous "flea kicker" against Missouri that screwed us out of an undisputed national championship in 1997? And who can forget Mike Lantry's phantom miss in 1974 that cost us a possible undefeated season and a trip to the Rose Bowl? On a related note, a college basketball fan would say that the NCAA basketball tournament is far superior to any system that college football has ever used to decide its national champion. And he would have a point.

There are plenty of good reasons to like football more than basketball, but officiating is not one of them. 


February 26th, 2013 at 5:40 PM ^

Anyone who saw the end of the IU/MSU game had to be disgusted with how long it took. Basketball would be a better game simply by eliminating some timeouts. With the possibility of 14 total timeouts in a half of college basketball, plus reviews, plus the MSU timekeeper never knows when to start the clock, it kinds of screws up the game.