This might not go over well, but basketball officiating has been driving me bonkers lately. That’s at all levels — even Sheridan rec league; shouts to my squad for winning their second title in a row.
NBA players have been blasting league officials at an alarming rate, with resident whiner Draymond Green even calling for a full overhaul. I’ve written about poor NCAA officiating already in the past, and it seems to be a trend that trickles from the top down.
I know officials have it rough. It’s a tough job, and one certainly needs thick skin to do it. I don’t have any desire to do it. But I also don’t have any desire to perform emergency room surgery, and that shouldn’t prevent me from pointing out very poor surgeons, should they exist.
I’m not comparing officiating to surgery, but you get the point.
I’m not calling out any specific officials at any level, but if you’re an official reading this column and thinking it’s about you, you’re probably right.
Now, I think officials have a duty to constantly seek improvement. It’s a job. One should strive to get better each day on the court. Miss a call Wednesday? Correct it Saturday, and so forth. It’s constant learning and growing and an internal motivation to establish new expectations.
And with constant rule changes, the learning and growing becomes much more challenging.
With that, I’m due for another push to fix charge rules in basketball.
I watch a lot of basketball. With every game comes at least one charge/block debacle that ignites coaches and players from both sides because nobody knows what the hell is going on.
A charge is too hard a call to make. Refs are already watching 15 other things on the floor — three-seconds in the paint, travels, shot clocks, illegal screens, etc. Now, you’re asking an official to make sure a defender’s feet are set, he’s not leaning one way or the other, he’s not undercutting an already-jumping offensive player, he’s not inside the half circle. All of that happens in a fraction of a second between two guys — especially at juco, NCAA and NBA levels — who are absurd athletic specimens.
It’s the bang-bangiest of bang-bang plays and almost always happens on a potential scoring play. It’s a crucial call every time.
And when we’re getting it wrong more often than we’re getting it right, is it effective?
It’s pretty much an impossible call to get accurate even a majority of the time, no matter how skilled an official one may be. I have no idea how to call it, and from what my observant eyes can tell, neither does anybody else.
The only solution is to eliminate it.
A guy lowers his shoulder like a running back and blows through a defender? Still an offensive foul. Stick out an arm and clear space? Yep, offensive foul.
But charges need to go. They aren’t good defensive plays — you’re getting into position late, but barely not late enough to foul. The more athletic guys are faulted for their athleticism.
Twice in the last month I watched Sheridan College’s Camron Reece — as athletic as anyone in Region IX — find himself on both ends of bad charge calls. Both came late in tight contests. Both could be argued as game-deciding calls.
It happens night in and night out. Charges put already-pressured officials in pretty much lose-lose situations. They change games while providing minimal value.
If we expect officials to work to improve, we must do our part to help. That starts with eliminating calls that are impossible to make. Ban charges.