A Follow-Up on Officiating


via (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

There are many reasons why a team wins and another team loses in a 40-minute college basketball game. In Saturday's game versus Kentucky, I stand by my assessment that the officiating was a contributing factor in Louisville's loss – it wasn't the only one, and I never said it was.

If you want to read about the other reasons why Louisville lost, there are many options available around the web. I'm a fan with an opinion, and nothing more. I submitted a fan post. My views do not represent those of SB Nation, Card Chronicle, Card Chronicle members or Louisville fans. Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.

Some fans agreed with me, and others did not. My fan post elicited varying opinions, and while it wasn't my intention when writing my original post, I'm glad to have opened up a dialogue and start a discussion on a topic that shouldn't be avoided.

Questioning officials shouldn't be a college basketball taboo. Fans invariably critique coaches and players. Referees are very much apart of the game, too. When I see what I believe to be a clearly botched call, I'm going to let my opinion be heard. When I see my team's key player have to take a seat on the bench because of an unfathomable whistle, I'm going to talk about it.

A fan shouldn't be called a crybaby, a whiner or a sore loser because he or she questions the officials. The print media isn't going to openly critique the officials, neither are the coaches (at length) or players. It's up to the fans to let our voices be heard. It's paradoxical that an arena full of fans can wail about the officiating as the game is played, shower the referees with boos after every objectionable call, then later label individuals who grouse about the same game as gripers.

I've followed and have been a fan of all of Rick Pitino's teams for the past 25 years. When he was at Kentucky, I used to listen to Cawood Ledford call the games on the radio. One of the many reasons I enjoyed listening to Ledford was he called it like he saw it. If he felt the referees made a bad call, he wouldn't bite his tongue. In his autobiography, Hello Everybody, This is Cawood Ledford, he wrote about UK's 1975 NCAA championship game versus UCLA. The Bruins had defeated Louisville in the national semifinals to advance to the title game. Said Ledford in his book: "After that win, UCLA's John Wooden pulled a real slick one, announcing at his press conference that he would retire after Monday night's championship game...I thought Wooden really took advantage of the situation and got away with murder that game. Several times he was out on the floor, stomping his foot, but the officials weren't about to call a 'T' on him in his final game."

Ledford openly questioned one of the most revered coaches in the sport's history, and criticized the officials in the process. He never said it was why Kentucky lost, but he clearly felt it was a contributing factor. Ledford wasn't a bellyacher for stating that Wooden "got away with murder" in the last game he ever coached – the longtime voice of the Wildcats was simply voicing his point of view. I'm sure there are many UCLA fans who would disagree with his assessment, but Ledford had an opinion, and he shared it.

Officiating does have an effect on the outcome of games – sometimes more, sometimes less. Do certain referees have personal agendas? I have no idea. I don't wear a tin hat. To me, the only appropriate attitude for a fan to have in regards to officiating is doubt – not the naive belief that every referee takes some sort of sacred oath, nor the paranoid certitude that every referee is up to no good. I'm confident the majority of police officers in this country are principled, but you needn't have seen the American television series The Wire to know that's not always the case.

I've been watching college basketball for a long time. I don't make a habit of complaining about the officials and I've never blamed a loss entirely on the referees. If that were the case, I would have stopped watching the sport a long time ago. In college basketball, if you want to win, you have to be good enough to overcome poor officiating.

I wasn't venting when I submitted my fan post. I felt there were significant calls that were unwarranted, and I shared my perspective, because that's what fans do. This is the Age of Comments. Don't hold back.

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