A shot of Jeff Orr (man on the left) and Oklahoma State Guard Marcus Smart during Saturday’s altercation in Lubbock. Texas Tech won the game 65-61. (photo via KJRH-TV)
Lately, a trend in sports seems to be to criticize referees for anything and everything. Sometimes while watching a game either on television or in person, or even when playing I will hear someone say, “That ref doesn’t like us.”
I’m sorry, what?
The odds are that the officials do not have any sort of personal relation or affiliation with any school or person in their respective conference at any level of play, be it high school or college. For instance, the son of legendary coach formerly at the University of North Carolina, Dean Smith, is a Division 1 referee. However, he is not allowed to officiate in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The fact of the matter is that these officials go through countless hours of rules and mechanics training. They know what can and cannot be done, and have their primary assignments while on the field or court. As an example, the lead in 3-person mechanics for basketball has primary on contact below the shoulders, the trail has above the shoulders and the center has first dibs on the back side of the play.
To demonstrate another way fans can be ejected, we just need to rewind to last night, February 8th. I was in Lubbock, Texas for the Oklahoma State-Texas Tech Men’s Basketball game in which OSU Guard Marcus Smart shoved TTU fan Jeff Orr in an altercation with only a few seconds remaining. The long-term effects of this incident are yet to be seen, but Orr will not be attending any of the remaining Red Raider Basketball games and Smart has been suspended for the next 3 games at Texas, home against Oklahoma and at Baylor. Smart will return against Texas Tech at home on Feb. 22. (Click here for Texas Tech University’s statement regarding the altercation)
If this trend of overly-rowdy fans doesn’t stop, it could get out of control.
Manziel poses with the Heisman Memorial Trophy after winning the award for the nation’s top College Football player as a Freshman out of Texas A&M (New York Times).
We all remember a young basketball player out of Toronto named Andrew Wiggins right? Well, he was ranked as the top recruit in the country by ESPN, whenever he wasn’t even in the United States. Many “experts” were expecting the Freshman to possibly win Big 12 Player of the Year or even lead the Kansas Jayhawks to a National Championship. Then something happened, Wiggins did not play as expected against Louisiana-Monroe, only putting up 16 points.
“Well that’s only one game,” you say? Against UTEP, who has not been in the NCAA Tournament since 2010, Wiggins only had 6 points, 9 on the road at Oklahoma and a grand total of 3 points at home against Oklahoma State, who was picked in a tie atop the Big 12 pre-season by the media. (Click here for Wiggins’ 2013-14 stats)
There are other examples in other sports as well. For instance, Johhny Manziel could not meet media expectations after winning the Heisman Trophy as a Freshman, even though he suffered an injury during his Sophomore season. However, with Texas A&M’s win total declining from 11 to 9, many critics blamed Manziel because his numbers were not “high enough.”
My point is this, we overhype too many athletes. Society and the media both start to talk about how great players are at a certain level of play, without having seen them take the field yet. Or, after winning an award or two, we expect even better out of them. Sometimes that just is not possible. Unfortunately, this is a trend that may continue, hurting athletes’ draft stock because of the “he’s not that good” attitude from one bad game.