I am sorry, but last’s night game between North Carolina and Gonzaga was a perfect example of what is wrong with major sports in today’s society. It was a perfect example of mediocrity trumping excellence. And, I am not speaking about the teams.
Last night three men went to the arena and sat in a dressing room waiting for tipoff. The eventually got dressed in their striped shirts and went out on the floor for what should have been a great basketball game to watch.
If you happened to miss the game, don’t be too sad, the three people who were supposed to referee the game missed it too. That was without doubt the most pathetic example of how to referee a basketball game I have seen in a very long time.
For some unknown reason, these three morons decided that they were going to be the center of the game. They interfered with the pace and play of the game to a point where neither team knew what to expect next. I am used to the usual favoritism that often comes across in games such as this. Especially when North Carolina is involved.
But, last night’s game was not so much a case of favoritism, but rather a case of incompetence. Those three officials should be forced to return the pay they received or be charged with felony theft. They stunk up the place.
On one hand, it was almost expected. The game of basketball used to be a game of finesse, beauty, grace, and skill. But, as with most other games, it has lost those wonderful athletic skills. Over the years, the game has changed to a point where we aren’t even watching basketball anymore.
The rules have changed to a point where it is almost impossible to play defense anymore. Simple point, just because someone tries to reach in and knock the ball away does not make the act an automatic foul as it is today. The rules have favored the offense just so scores will go up and more casual fans will watch. You almost never see a player called for traveling anymore. The “offensive” foul has all but gone away, except the most obvious ones. Referees don’t even watch the game close enough to determine who is out-of-bounds and who isn’t.
I used to referee high school basketball. I know the rules and I know how a game is supposed to be officiated. What I saw last night was a perfect example of how not to officiate a game.
I don’t necessarily blame the players for the awful changes to the game. I mostly blame the league officials who constantly change the rules for no particular reason and I blame the coaches for not teaching the real game. I also blame places like ESPN and Fox Sports for showcasing some of the easiest plays and raving over how wonderful it was.
For example, I am not impressed with someone who can do a 360 slam dunk. Whoopee! It counts for two points and there really isn’t any skill involved. If you are 6 foot 4 or taller and can’t dunk a basketball, you probably shouldn’t be on the team.
I especially hate it when someone does what is called a “monster dunk” and then poses trying to show off how tough he is. Even when his team is trailing by 20 points with about 5 minutes left in the game.
They behave this way because that is what will get their face on ESPN or Fox Sports or some other sports station. Team be damned, I want my face time on TV.
Even with “replay” available, the refs still get the call wrong. Last night in a critical point in the game, a North Carolina player had his hand clearly out-of-bounds when he had possession of the ball on the floor. The refs blew the call.
Last night could have and should have been a great game between two very talented and highly skilled teams. But, three men decided that everyone was paying to watch them make a mess of the game and called an horrendous game.
Last night also proved that you don’t have to be a member of one of the so-called “power conferences” to make it to the finals. Gonzaga did themselves proud last night, and they have nothing to hang their heads about.
I know and expect that in all things change is inevitable. However, change in sports should only be made when those changes will make the game better, not worse. So far, I believe the changes to basketball have made the game worse, and have given rise to the glory hungry referees who believe they can do no wrong.
Basketball is not alone. I am an avid baseball fan. This year, MLB made a change that I consider the most stupid and reckless change they have made in a long time. They decided that if you want to intentionally walk a batter, you just tell the umpire and the batter gets first base automatically. They claim the change would speed up the game.
However, they also forgot that there have been many times when during an intentional walk situation, the pitcher threw the pitch to the back screen and the winning run scored. Or, the pitch was too close to the plate and the batter hit it out of the park. Or, how about the time when the reds played a trick on Carlton Fisk during the World Series at a critical point in the game. With a 3-2 count, the catcher indicated an intentional walk on the next pitch. Fisk relaxed and the catcher crouched behind the plate and Fisk took strike three thinking he was being walked. With this rule change, that can no longer happen and the fans miss out on something possible that can change the outcome of the game. I say shame on baseball for even thinking about changing that rule.
So despite the fact that I absolutely despise North Carolina basketball, congratulations to them for winning the national title. Only, I can’t help but feel that those three incompetent referees stole a potentially great game from us. Fans around the country should be outraged by their conduct.