You suck, Ed.
A study conducted by Indiana and Ball State University professors has uncovered what we’ve always suspected… refs are biased little turds. As this article by Eddie Pells about the study states…
Refs favor the home team, the academics say. They’re big on “make-up” calls. They make more calls against teams in the lead, and the discrepancy grows if the game is on national TV.
To reach this conclusion, the professors studied 365 games from the 2004-2005 season, including 93 neutral court games and all 63 NCAA Tournament games. Here are some interesting tidbits from the article:
- Refs tend to keep the foul count even regardless of which team is more aggressive.
- The probability of a foul being called on the visiting team was 7 percent higher than on the home team.
- When the home team is leading, the probability of the next foul being called on them was about 6.3 percentage points higher than when the home team was trailing. The professors also cited an earlier study that concluded there were more calls against teams ahead in games on national TV versus those ahead in locally televised games. Calling fouls against the leading team tends to keep games closer, the studies said.
- The bigger the difference in fouls between the two teams playing, the more likely it was that the next call would come against the team with fewer fouls. When the home team had five or more fouls than the visiting team, there was a 69 percent chance the visiting team would be whistled for the next foul.
- The professors looked only at first halves because teams committing intentional fouls while in catch-up mode at the end of games skewed the second-half results.
So, basically, whether or not your players are actually fouling the opposing team isn’t nearly as relevant as 1.) how much the other team is fouling, 2.) the reputations for fouling of the two teams, 3.) whether or not your team is leading the game, and 4.) whether the game is on national TV or not.
Call me old fashioned, but I’m not sure that any of those factors have anything to do with the act of committing a foul. How have refs responded to the study?
Prominent former ref Irv Brown has this to say:
“There’s something to it,” said Irv Brown, a former official who worked six Final Fours and was supervisor of officials for the Western Athletic and Big Sky conferences. “If you’re looking at the board and one team has a lot more fouls, you probably look a little harder to do something, subconsciously.”
Brown was apparently in the minority, though, as most refs responded to the study with the typical denials.
Anderson said he talked to a number of referees as part of the research and the majority said “you’re crazy. We don’t do this.”
The NCAA has asked for a copy of the study, and you’d hope they would at least discuss the results with their officials in hopes of avoiding these problems moving forward.
Based on the NCAA’s track record, I won’t be holding my breath.