Referees Are Too Old

Nuggets Mavericks Basketball

In yesterday’s game against the Denver Nuggets, Dallas’s Anthony Wright tried to foul Carmelo Anthony in the final seconds since the team had a foul to give. No official blew his whistle and Carmelo made a game-winning three-pointer, giving the Nuggets a three games to none lead in the series.

There were 61 fouls called in the game, and yet the most important one was not called at all. After the game, the NBA admitted the missed call. “At the end of the Dallas-Denver game this evening, the officials missed an intentional foul committed by Antoine Wright on Carmelo Anthony, just prior to Anthony’s three-point basket,” said NBA President of league and basketball operations, Joel Litvin.

Wow. That is a bad call to screw up. Maverick players were enraged after the game and owner Mark Cuban pushed a camera man as he left the stadium. Doesn’t such a horrible call undermine the entire idea of sports? Every day, I hear about another official who blew a decisive call in a game. Maybe it’s because more games are getting closer or players are finding ways to push the rules, but it seems like there are more tough calls than ever before.

The playoffs are supposed to decide a champion, but if one team is getting an advantage via officiating, than how can it be fair? A slight advantage is one thing, but when a game is decided such as in the Mavs-Nuggets game, that is not right.

Narrowing it down to just the NBA is unfair too as every sport has big troubles with referees. Here’s my problem with the situation:

Refs are too old.

Am I the only one who sees this? After you reach 35 in just about any sport, you are past your prime and too old to play. The players fall apart mentally and physically. If player can only play until 35 (slightly older in some sports), then how can officials possibly call a game correctly at age 50 or older? There eyesight has decayed, their mind is not as sharp. It’s a fact of human life.

I understand that officials need to be experience and willing to make tough calls in situations, but you can be 28-30 years old and be experienced. The main official who missed the call last night was Mark Wunderlich, who is in his 17th NBA season as a ref. He’s 51 years old though and missed a major call in the Western Conference finals last year. It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been in the NBA if you’re vision is too bad and/or reflexes are too slow.

If sports finally realize this and start hiring younger officials, I bet that the number of bad calls decreases. 30-year-old officials will be able to keep up with the fast-paced action and make the proper call. The commissioners just have to realize that the problem is with the age of the officials, not the officials themselves.


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