Two mornings in a row, I know. I won't apologize though. Let me rank for you the things in the sporting world that I'm passionate about.
1.) The Cleveland Browns
2.) The Cleveland Indians
3.) The Denver Nuggets
4.) College Basketball
5.) The Olympics (summer or winter, I don't care)
6.) Officiating in the NBA
I wish I didn't love the NBA so much because then I would be ok with not watching the sport. The NBA isn't run by David Stern or the players or the owners or the GMs.
Let me preface all of this by saying that bad calls happen. Referees are humans. I get that. But without further ado.
The NBA is run by the mob. Read my lips" M O B. You know, Tony Soprano, Tony Montana, Lucky Luciano, Al Capone. The mob. It is the only professional sport that is yet to make itself independent of the officials.
In the NFL it is far too dubious if the referees alter the outcome of the game. The replay system in place is a great safeguard on blown calls. A call that sticks out recently is the "Gun Show" Hochuli botching of the San Diego-Denver game in week 2. It stands out as a bad call. The man was forthright. He knew he made a bad call. He's refereed 2 Super Bowls though. But honestly, what do we see, 3-5 NFL games a year truly altered by a bad call?
The World Series ended 2 nights ago. The Phillies defeated the Rays in what can only be described as a bizarre World Series. The rain delay, the upstart Rays, the Phils quenching the Title thirst of Philadelphia and the questionable umpiring. All that I'll say is that it seemed the calls evened out through the course of the Series. I don't know if one team benefited more than the other. Baseball umpires come into scrutiny basically for their strike zones. I think strike zones tend to be consistent for most of the game. It is the rare occasion when one team clearly gets squeezed while the other has a gigantic zone. There is the occasional fair/foul controversy. With replay in place now homerun calls will now be more transparent.
Nobody cares enough about the NHL to fix the games. Plus I seriously question whether Canadians have the intelligence to fix a sporting event. A topic for another day.
International soccer has seen far too many refereeing scandals to mention. Fixing soccer games is a business and it's laughable how little people care. Italy's Serie A made a bold step by relegating several premier teams and suspending some big name players. It's still effort in futility to stem the flow of game fixing.
Now to the NBA. David Stern has made certain that the Tim Donaghy trial fetches ample publicity. Well David I'm not buying it. Donaghy is the tip of the iceberg. In my humble opinion there are at least 10 other NBA officials involved in fixing games. In no other major American sport are the referees such a part of the game's fabric. In no other American sport do the referees possess so much discretion over the game. The objective rules of the game are laughable. In baseball most people can see common balls and strikes, just like the umpires. 90% of the time the umpires and the casual fan agree. In the NBA the casual fan can see the "rules" of the game and there is well over a 50% chance that the referees will disagree. There is no objectivity in any call: traveling, the hook on post moves, moving screens, the handcheck, getting hit on the way to the hoop, lane violations on free throws, and more than anything the mother fucking flop.