NBA Ref Race Study: Stupid

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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.

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4 thoughts on “NBA Ref Race Study: Stupid

  1. Just a thought: certainly racism you describe in the last paragraph is the more harmful, but that is difficult to quantify. Racism in foul calls is difficult to quantify, too, but at least there is data there to look at.

    And this is just what academics do (and I mean that in a good way). Regardless of what their statistical study revealed, in academia, doing the statistical study thoroughly is an end in itself. It’s a chance to develop strategies and techniques. Even if you think the conclusion is bunk or that the purpose is wasteful, it is exactly the sort of thing academics NEED to do to progress thought and action.

  2. SJH says:

    It all makes sense! You know why the Knicks didn’t make the playoffs? Because David Lee got injured and was replaced in the lineup by a Negro (a nappy-headed one at that). The refs screwed the team out of 15-20 wins. They’d be en route to the Finals right now. The Heat beat the Mavs last year because they had more white guys. Michael Doleac, Jason Williams, Matt Walsh and Jason Kapono offset Dirk Nowitzki, who doesn’t count as much anyway because he’s not American.

    They just educated our ignorant asses. When smart folks are talking, close your mouth and open your mind.

    I’m gonna assume they considered the fact that the league is 90% black and worked the statistics around that. But I’m wondering if they factored in the minutes played. Most starting lineups are all black and, obviously, the more you’re on the court, the greater chance there is of you committing or being called for a foul. They also should’ve considered the difference in play. Most fouls are committed inside the paint (that’s why big men usually accumulate the most fouls). I can’t back it up with a number, but I’m gonna say that most white guys are perimeter players. You don’t get whistled for fouls too often when spotting up for a jumper. There aren’t a lot of rugged, low post defenders who are white. Hell, a lot of the Europeans don’t play defense at all.

    You know what this study succeeded in doing? Getting white people to laugh.

  3. daryl says:

    I agee with Roy. This study lacks common sense and substance. Now if the study would have had as it’s premise that the leagues elite players are the benefactors of favorable calls, I would have said that this report is valid. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlin, Elgin Baylor (who always walked) got away with murder. Just like Earl Monroe and Allen Iverson got/get away with “carrying the ball”. Howver, to say that African American players are the victims of Klu Klux Klan officials is pure nonsense. Thumbs down.

  4. Jake says:

    I’m sure an untrained monkey could deliver a research study with as much credibility as this slop. Hell give me $50000 and I’ll conduct research examining the disparity of old fat guys in the NBA.

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