Monday, December 26, 2011

Bully Cowards In Stripes

To borrow a phrase from my mother, here's something that really "burns me up."

I caught the below video on Yahoo!, with a nice little writeup on this kid in the class of 2014. Long story short: a kid who is much better than everyone else on the floor throws one down, and he is almost immediately ejected from the game for taunting (with a back-to-back technical call).

Here's the video:

Loads of crap.

I was reviewing some of the comments on the Yahoo! story, and the reaction was all over the place: it was an offensive foul, kid shouldn't of been hot-dogging, the ref is racist... on and on.

Here's where I sit:

That referee thinks he's bigger than the game. And that's a problem with me.

It was a clear case of this kid being better than everyone else, and the referee didn't like it and took it upon himself to 'equalize' the playing field. It is not the place of a referee to do this - the teams determine how level the playing field through their practice, preparation, and sometimes just sheer talent. And this dude tilted that playing field against the better team. I can tell from 10 seconds of video that this kid was far and away the best player on the floor (just from defensive stances, his teammates' floor positions, and the defense's floor rotation when he breaks loose from his defender).

And this referee felt like it put the other team at a disadvantage and targeted this kid.

It's not his fault he's better than everyone else - it's their fault for not being as good. Fair or not.

No, I don't think he should have been given a technical for pausing/posing on the baseline (NOT staring down the kid he just humiliated) - he did just make an amazing play after all, and perhaps he needed a moment to take in what he just did. (Yes, that can happen.) Nor do I think he should have been given a technical for saluting/acknowledging his OWN fans during a dead ball.

Yep, that's Teddy. There's no reason
we should know his name, but we do.
The bigger issue is that this kind of stuff happens all the time. Referees (particularly in basketball, it seems) often times can feel like they should be a major part of the game. That is all wrong. From junior high basketball refs to Teddy 'TV' Valentine or Tim Higgins in the NCAA - something about that whistle gives these guys a power trip that they just can't seem to handle. It's not universal - of course there are thousands of referees everywhere that do as good as they can with a difficult job. But those that take advantage of their situation and take it out on kids - are cowards and bullies. Bully cowards. And I don't like that.

There should be accountability - and rarely is it ever implemented. Those who say you should never question the referee or risk damaging their ability to umpire - I say boo to you. See above. The ref was looking for an opportunity to get rid of this kid, and he took it. That's not cool - and I don't think this guy should be allowed to ref again this season.

I'll finish this off with a quick story of my time as a high school basketball coach. An acquaintance of mine had just gotten some work reffing some high school games - and he was assigned to one of my games. He was nervous going in - he told me - but after the game, he came up to me and asked me what I thought of the job he did. I told him he was perfect. He had called fouls against my team and the opponent, so there didn't seem to be any favoritism (we weren't 'friends' - just two guys who knew each other). He asked me why I told him that he was perfect, as he said he hadn't called a perfect game or anything. I told him that I thought he was great because I didn't even really realize he was there - he didn't take away any attention from the game onto himself.

And that is what a good referee does.

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