What a waste. What a sham. What a shame. Two academicians with not enough to do spent years assessing the potential of racial bias among NBA refs and after exhaustively discovered that white refs have such an overtendency to call fouls on black player that it just might affect the outcome of ,what, two games during an 82-game season?
Probably even more stunning, these geeks duped the venerable New York Times into thinking this was actually “news” and printing it on A1.
I first heard about this study during early-morning radio shows on Thursday. I have to admit it took me almost a full day to actually read the story. Why? Because what i heard was stupid. Really stupid.
A whole lot of very smart people spent a LOT of time on this study. First, the two Penn geeks looked at box scored from more than a decade of games. Then the NBA paid a firm a lot of money to do its own study. The geeks found the bias; the NBA said the findings were wrong.
Anyone who knows me or read me for any length of time knows I’ll search for racism under a rock by the side of the road. But this? Please. Stupid.
1) I covered the NBA as a beat reporter from 1979 through 1987. From there I was a columnist and editor that retained one foot in pro ball. I’ve been to more NBA games -heard more national anthems – than almost anyone you know. And while I’ve long heard players complain about a specific official not liking him or another player I’ve not heard a single player or coach even intimate that they felt white refs had a tendency to call more fouls on black players than white one.
2) The Geek Study lacked one thing. Because it based its study on box scores, it was unable to determine which official called a particular foul. So its data was based on whether the three-man officiating crew was all white, all black or something in between.
3) Who cares anyway?
What did I learn from this study? That there’s possible racial bias in the workplace? Duh. Run through the Fortune 500 list and you’ll find the same thing. But it’s much more important there because it truly affects the livelihoods of capable and qualified people. It affects their ability to obtain the kinds of opportunities they’ve earned. It reinforces the disparity in wealth and power between whites and other ethnic groups.
THAT’s what’s important. Not this insipid stuff. Let’s move on.