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Question of the Day: Should there be any punishment for referees if they blow a big call? [Updated]

April 19, 2011 |  9:04 am

Writers from around the Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun Sentinel

Nba-logo_200 There already is. The NBA routinely fines, suspends or otherwise issues sanctions against referees in such situations.

It is why such offenders seemingly disappear from the postseason scene, as if shuffled off into witness protection.

The only real issue here is whether the league should make such sanctions public, as is the case for players who receive fines or suspensions after flagrant or technical fouls.

The difference here is this merely was human error, a referee not seeing something that actually happened. A mistake in judgment, not in the application of the rules.

Do we fine players for committing turnovers, missing free throws, failing to follow a proper set? And if there is such admonishment it comes in the privacy of the locker room.

A last-minute call cost your team a playoff game? Next time don't let it come down to the last minute. And if the referee blows it, consider it his version of a turnover.

[Updated at 9:44 a.m.:

Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times

The easiest thing in the world would be to bench referees for the rest of the current playoff series, and the next round, for truly egregious mistakes.

Of course, there is the very definition of an egregious error and how many officials would be left around to call postseason games. And are we talking about definition by the fan base screaming and tweeting the loudest or simply when the league has to issue a statement, like it did, admitting error in not calling goaltending on Kendrick Perkins’ basket late in the Oklahoma City-Denver game?

Everything, of course, is magnified 10 times over these days through the help of super slo-mo video replay from nearly every conceivable angle and creative websites designed to break down the botched calls and non-calls.

One other proposed scary sanction: forcing the officials to sit in a room with one another, reading pages of printouts of Twitter comments from the game in question. Can’t think of anything much more draconian than that method of punishment. ]

[Updated at 1:55 p.m.:

K.C. Johnson, Chicago Tribune

NBA referees are some of the most scrutinized and second-guessed in sports. That's plenty of punishment for a human error made in a split-second decision in the heat of the moment. Adding punitive measures in terms of suspensions or fines would be silly. You think the official who got the offensive interference call in the Oklahoma City-Denver game wrong would improve by fining or suspending him? It's not like he tried to blow the call.

If the league wants to get more judgment calls at a 100% accuracy rate, expand the powers of instant replay. The league has done a good job of incorporating the few powers of instant replay into the course of the game so as not to slow it down too much. Broaden that usage.

The officials who are in the playoffs are the ones who have passed meticulous postgame reviews all regular season long. To punish them for an honest mistake now is just wrong.]


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