We are approaching a week into the college basketball season, and the conversation should be on the games that took place last night (Michigan State looked experienced; Kentucky looked scary talented; Kansas looked like a long version of Kentucky; Duke looked like Duke… with Jabari Parker). But, and I’m afraid it will get worse before it gets better, we are talking about the officiating.
A common phrase you’ll hear from fans is “the officials took over the game.” This is uttered more often than it should be, because there are games the honestly require it. I don’t like using it, and I am generally an apologist for the men in zebra stripes because the job is so hard. However, I think I am going to coin my own phrase for the start of this season:
The Rules are Taking Over the Game
Call me old fashioned. Call me a fan of the little guy, who needs to limit possessions. Call me a supporter of rugged styles. I didn’t think the college game was becoming too physical or defensively dominated.
The new rules to avoid contact appear to be a culture shock to the players. Natural reactions are being met with a whistle. Out-of-control players are bailed out because they draw contact.
Here’s the deal: The whistles will diminish a bit as we move forward. Too many free throws; games going over by 30+ minutes; stars being disqualified. All of those will play on the human reality that makes officials, well, human.
I don’t broadcast a basketball game until conference seasons begin (in January) and I’ll be interested to see how the games are officiated at that point. I think teams will learn slightly, but officials will back off some. What you will see, I hope, are some touchy calls early, followed by an environment that allows more free playing late.
Time will tell, but I’m with most fans right now: let’s swallow the whistles a bit and let the players welcome us back to the college basketball season.