On Officiating

[So, yes, this post is partially a response to the vigorous commenting from you, our gentle readers, regarding the officiating over the course of the Final Four weekend. In that context, publishing a post specifically on the topic of officiating is probably a bad idea, since it will result in even more commenting on a topic I generally find tiresome. But the content of this post represents the culmination of my thinking over the course of a season in which I have perceived a general uptick in complaints about officiating across the college basketball blogosphere. I might as well get my thoughts out of my head while they're fresh.

Plus, if we don't talk about this, we have to talk more about the Durrell Summers draft situation--about which there is really nothing left to say at the moment. Or nothing left to say of an informed nature, at least. Speculating on the motives of 21-year old potential professional basketball players is almost as creepy as speculating about the motives of 17-year old potential college basketball players.]

Fifteen things I think about college basketball officiating:

15. There are 347 Division 1 basketball teams--each of which plays 30+ games per season, each of which has 3 officials assigned to it. Just counting BCS conferences, you're up around 75 teams.

14. It takes a lot of officials to call all those games.

13. Not all of them are really good at it.

12. Some of them have particularly-aggravating styles.

11. Basketball's basic premise rests on who has position at any particular moment. Position is a difficult thing to precisely determine in the context of 10 big, fast guys running around in a relatively small area.

10. The charge-block call represents the height of that difficulty.

9. College basketball has become an increasingly physical sport over the last decade.

8. The Michigan State Spartans have played a not insignificant role in that trend. (Yes, we hold, too, on occasion.)

7. If officials called every bump, hold, and grab, it would probably not be to MSU's net benefit.

6. The general reaction from fans when officials do call games tightly is that the refs should "let 'em play."

5. While fewer officials are needed in the NCAA Tournament, the tournament also represents the point at which the competition becomes the most intense and the play becomes the most physical.

4. My preferences to the contrary, officials call the game differently in the final 10 seconds than they do in the preceding 2,390 seconds.

3. Some times that works to your team's benefit.

2. Some times it doesn't.

1. College basketball is a fabulous spectator sport, offering a balanced blend of athleticism, teamwork, discipline, and emotion. Watching and enjoying the sport requires, however, that the spectator not obsess about the inherent vagaries and inconsistencies of its officiating.

[/piece spoken]

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