Don’t worry WNBA, you’re not the only ones who get asked that question

We never have been big fans of soccer, considering how we as Americans are totally oblivious to fact that sport even exists except when our morning SportsCenter is continually canceled for some boring women’s `futbol’ match between Zimbabwe and Northern Hungary. So, seeing that we can’t stand the game, we really think their refs have a crappy job. Except for this guy, he’s having way too much fun out on the pitch.

But we never realized just how lame their lives were until we heard that the refs at a recent women’s soccer match were reduced to performing nut checks to verify genders of the players.

Banyana Banyana coach Augustine Makalakalane has described as mischievous claims allegedly made by a top Ghanaian official that SA used a male player in their Olympic qualifier at the Caledonian Stadium last month.

“I don’t know what the official is up to, but what he is quoted as saying can be best described as utter rubbish,” fumed Makalakalane. “We’ve never cheated and maybe he should consult with his captain in future before he makes such irresponsible comments.

“Fact of the matter is that they raised a suspicion against our striker, Alice Noko Matlou from Limpopo and the officiating referee made an inspection in our dressing room in the present of the Ghana captain. After everyone concerned was satisfied that our player was a girl, she was allowed to feature in the game. The referee would not have allowed her to be part of the game if Alice or anyone else was indeed male.

“If it is indeed correct that the Ghanaian official has said this, then I’m personally disappointed with his conduct. But if it’s an attempt to play mind games against us ahead of the return game in Ghana in December, then let me inform them that we are not only bringing Alice, but the whole Banyana Banyana. They can also expect another player with male features in our team for that contest, and that will still not be cheating,” he said.

Sure, looking down a soccer chick’s pants might sound cool, but you gotta realize that if you have to look down her pants to determine if it’s a dude or a lady then she’s probably not the Jennie Finch or Anna Kournikova kinda athlete. But this practice could be useful here in America; after all, if our refs would perform inspections like this then Christian Laettner would have never been allowed to taint the Dream Team.


[The Offside]: Genitalia Inspection now part of Referees’ job description
[]: Banyana dispute gender cheating claims
[The Sun]: Spot the ball please, ref

NBA General

Odds and Ends: More on the NBA ref racial bias study

Should we call it on the black guy?

A couple of weeks ago, we told you about a study that concluded that there was a racial bias in foul calls in the NBA. One of the major flaws in that study was that the data was based on box scores and only the racial makeup of the three member crews could be used in the analysis instead of which ref made which call. Well, after the NBA criticized the study, they released actual person by person foul call data to Justin Wolfers, the professor who penned the study.

After reviewing the new data, Wolfers found that the NBA’s data actually confirms racial bias in officiating. Doh! An independent analysis of both Wolfer’s and the NBA’s study confirmed the findings in Wolfer’s study. The NBA is taking an ostrich approach: “It’s done. It’s over. We have nothing to add to what we have said already.”

In other news…

[NY Times]: Some people think an amputee sprinter might actually has an unfair advantae in the Olympics.

[]: Colts say no to car honoring team in the Indy 500.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]: Hey, Ruben Patterson, don’t forget: you’re a sex offender.

[Off Color Commentary]: Pam Oliver sucks

[One More Dying Quail]: Baseball’s All-Height Team

And finally, we have two stories on why ESPN sucks donkey. First, is Fantasy Fishing. Boy, we can’t wait to get our office ready for this thing. Second, the National Spelling Bee will be hosted by Mike and Mike. How many Golic is so dumb, he can’t spell cat jokes will there be? 200? ESPN really is ruining everything holy in sports/almost sports.

NBA General

Study says NBA refs are racialist

Well, what about me?

A study by an assistant professor at Penn and a graduate student at Cornell found that there is a racial bias in NBA referee calls. They found fouls were called at a greater rate against black players than against white players. They also found that black refs called more fouls against white players than black players. Based on box scores from 1991 to 2004, the study concluded that the racial makeup of the officiating crew affected calls by 4 1/2 percent.

Of course, the NBA is denouncing the study because the study analyzed calls by the three-man crews in aggregate and not by individual referees. The NBA did it’s own study and concluded – suprise – that there was no bias in foul calls. The NBA has data on which called was made by which official but declined to give the researches the info, citing a confidentiality agreement with the refs. How convenient.

We don’t actually think there’s any racial bias in referees in the NBA. Everyone knows that they call the fouls that David Stern wants them to call.

[AP]: Study suggests racial bias in NBA calls

College Football

Replay official gets the boot

The Pac-10 replay official who blew one of the most obvious calls in college history has been relieved of his duties. Gordon Reise ruled that the Ducks had recovered an onside kick even though the replay clearly shows #23 of the Sooners walking away with the ball. We can understand how an official on the field would miss it but how can a replay official be so stupid? Well, finally some accountability for a ref as Reise gets the axe. This doesn’t help the Sooners get back that 34-33 loss but at least the NCAA is willing to admit a mistake.

On another note, the Super Bowl this year was controversy free. (Well, except for the ridiculous controversy about Prince’s guitar. Gee.. the guitar is like a huge penis? really?) The refs did their job and we aren’t debating days afterward on whether a correct call was made. As far as we know, every single call in the Super Bowl was correct.

[Fox 23]: Official in booth for Oregon-Oklahoma loses replay booth job

NBA General

Around the Rim: Rude Ref

Making a move

1. Blow Your Whistle, Then Blow Your Top
What’s the deal? Everyone in Portland has to be a tough guy, and it’s not even limited to Trailblazer players anymore. Last Sunday, nine-year veteran referee Rodney Mott was observed flipping the bird to a fan in the stands and using inappropriate language after a Blazer home loss to the Heat. Sure, it’s a lame offense by Portland’s standards, but it should still earn him a little street cred in “The City of Roses.” And I’m sure Zach Randolph feels that the greatest form of flattery is imitation. But shouldn’t refs be held to higher standards during the leagues attempt at rebuilding their image? A three game suspension without pay seems a bit weak on David Stern’s part.

2. Election Day
Allen Iverson was a shoe in for a starting guard position in the East at this year’s All-Star Game in Las Vegas before he was traded to Denver. In the West, however, Iverson ranks third in votes behind Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady. But the votes for The Answer have been rolling in and the gap between Iverson and McGrady has been shrinking. At last check, A.I. was only 31,263 votes behind T-Mac. So, for all the Iverson fans out there, get out to a game today and stuff those ballot boxes because no paper votes will be accepted after the 15th. However, should you prefer, you can also sit on your couch in your underwear and vote drunk on the web through January 21. The starters for the game will be announced on January 25.

3. Here We Go Again
Dallas is obviously a great team and they deserve plenty of recognition, but is anyone else getting sick of this same old story? The Mavericks are rolling yet again as they have won four in a row after having their 13 game winning streak broken by the Lakers. The Mavs haven’t lost consecutive games since they opened the season by losing their first four games. And don’t adjust your eyes; since the first week of the season ended, they are an incredible 31-4. If you take the first four losses away, Dallas would be on pace to break the 1995-96 Bulls’ record 72 win season by one win. This current streak could easily grow into another double digit run as 30 points and 10 rebounds has become simply average for Dirk Nowitzki of late.

In related news, Phoenix can pick up their second ten game win streak of the season with a win in Memphis tonight.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Dirk Nowitzki @ Toronto 45 min, 38 pts (FG: 14-30, 3FG: 3-6, FT: 7-9), 11 reb, 5 ast, 2 stl, 3 blk

Monday’s Game to Watch: Utah (24-13) @ Washington (20-16) The Jazz have lost three games in a row and four of their last five. But Utah is not as bad as their recent skid would indicate however, they are also not as good as their 12-1 start had people believing. The Jazz are somewhere in between and they will have their hands full with a Wizards team that has won 11 of their last 16. Washington is 14-3 at home this season and Gilbert Arenas is beginning to get some serious MVP consideration thanks in part to his 29.7 point scoring average. Caron Butler has established himself as an excellent sidekick to Arenas and will exploit any team who decides to put their best perimeter defender on Agent 0.

Buzzer Beater: It was six years ago that the Knicks and Spurs literally gave the league a black eye on MLK day when N.Y. center Marcus Camby attempted to decapitate the Spurs’ Danny Ferry with a blindsided sucker punch. At the last moment, Ferry ducked the punch and Camby clocked his coach, Jeff Van Gundy, opening a cut above his left eye that needed over 12 stitches to close. Interestingly, none of the major players from the fight are involved in action on this Martin Luther King holiday. (Ferry is now Cleveland’s GM, Van Gundy coaches the Rockets and Camby plays in Denver.)

NBA General

Around the Rim: Experiencing Technical Difficulties

1. Tech Vet
The NBA is buckling down on players complaining to officials, and technical fouls are on the rise as a result. Leading the way is the poster child for badmouthing, Rasheed Wallace, who has received four technical fouls and has one ejection on the year. While players, especially Wallace, are known to get out of line from time to time, all the blame can’t be placed on them. Referees are becoming far too whistle happy as they attempt to lay down the law early on in the season. Players argue that refs are removing the passion from the game; the league office says that they understand the emotional aspect of the game and that any heat of the moment reactions will not be penalized. However, the numbers tell a different story. In the first 51 games, 62 technicals were issued to 46 different players. Last season, through 50 games, only 20 technicals were issued. “It’s almost to the point where I’m like, well, I don’t want to go too hard because I am going to get psyched up and get a tech,” said Wallace. While Wallace has never been a model citizen, he has also never been swayed from playing with emotion, so if Sheed’s losing his passion for the game then something is definitely wrong with the system.

2. No Refunds
What is wrong with this picture? The New York Knicks, a 2-3 team that has not won 40 games in any of the past five seasons, have the highest payroll in the league, spending a whooping $140,595,134 for 2006-07. More than $45 million more than any other team! Chicago made the playoffs last year, added a high profile center in Ben Wallace to their lineup and is expected to compete for a division title this year, and the team’s salary is only $52,861,780. The ridiculous overpaying of players, regardless of talent level, is simply further proof that New York is currently the poorest run organization in the NBA. While it’s true that money talks, it, obviously, doesn’t motivate. At least Atlanta at $44,363,696 and Charlotte at $33,418,833 can afford to be pathetic.

3. Contract Sport
The Knicks were ordered to pay former head coach Larry Brown $18.5 million out of the over $40 million that was left on his contract when the team fired him after his team went 23-59. David Stern was made the arbiter of the case due to a clause in Brown’s contract. After 15 hours of testimony over a two day period, Stern was able to get both sides to settle. Gregg Popovich and George Karl are two coaches that have expressed concern over the way the ruling affects coaches in the future and whether a precedent has now been set. Coaches believe that their salaries should be guaranteed unless it is otherwise written within their contracts. Players receive full salaries despite poor performance or injury, so why shouldn’t a coach? New York was a poorly assembled team before Brown’s arrival, and to expect him to turn a group of b-ball toads into the 2004 Pistons or even the 1988 Jayhawks in one season is ridiculous. The Knicks organization offered him the deal, the Knicks organization fired him before his contract was up and the Knicks should be forced to pay Brown the remainder of his cash. Then again, Zeke always was a threat to pick somebody’s pocket

4. The Big Boo-Boo
Shaquille O’Neal has been bitten by the injury bug after playing in only two games and has now missed two games. Shaq missed 23 games last year after an injury early in the season, and while the Heat’s main concern is having O’Neal ready for the playoffs, they certainly don’t want to have to rely on Dwyane Wade to shoulder the load as he did last season. Wade had to step-up and carry the seven foot giant on several occasions last year when O’Neal played like a Datsun instead of a Diesel; including the Finals where Wade averaged 34.7 per game and chauffeured Shaq to his fourth championship parade. Pat Riley would love to have Superman and Flash at 100 percent because, this year, the weight of an aging franchise with a target on it’s back might be too much to overcome for any one hero.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Gilbert Arenas vs. Indiana 32 min, 40 pts (FG: 14-20, 3FG: 4-6, FT: 8-9), 1 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Chicago (2-2) @ Cleveland (2-2) This could be a preview of the eastern conference championship in the next few years. Both teams are up and coming and both are trying to be the team to take the central division away from the Pistons. LeBron James will have to get past a four time defensive player of the year, Ben Wallace, if he is going to provide fans with one of his aerial showcases at the rim. Tim Duncan knows from personal experience that being defensive minded isn’t always enough to keep from appearing on the wrong end of one of James’ highlight dunks.

College Football

Bob Stoops says take your apology and shove it

The Pac-10 has suspended the officials who worked the Oklahoma-Oregon game for one game because of their shoddy work.

Errors clearly were made and not corrected, and for that we apologize to the University of Oklahoma, coach Bob Stoops and his players,” Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen said in a statement. “They played an outstanding college football game, as did Oregon, and it is regrettable that the outcome of the contest was affected by the officiating.

Bob Stoops said that the apology offered no consolation.

At least they have reacted to it and tried. Truly there can be no amends to it and it can’t be corrected. I’ve made a million mistakes,” Stoops said. “I’ll make a million more in each game, and in that game included, I wish there were things I could have done differently or changed. Unlike officials, players and coaches don’t have that opportunity. They had an opportunity to get it right and they chose not to. So I find it still absolutely inexcusable and unacceptable.

Bob Stoops and Oklahoma have every right to be pissed. The calls that went against Oklahoma were criminal. The president of the University of Oklahoma sent a letter to Big 12 Commission Kevin Weiberg asking for the game to be stricken from the record and the officials suspended for the rest of the season. One game isn’t nearly good enough but at least the conference admitted their mistake and suspended the officials for one game. Now if only we could get the NFL to fix their officiating.

[Seattle PI]: Pac-10 suspends officials for 1 game
[MSNBC]: Trash Talk: Sooners are Sore Losers

College Football

Oklahoma gets absolutely jobbed by the refs

A lot of fans complain about bad officiating in their games and usually they’re just making excuses for the poor play of their teams but in the case of the Oregon-Oklahoma game on Saturday, Sooners fans are absolutely correct in blaming the officials. Take a look at this video. It clearly shows the Oklahoma player recovering the ball yet the onside kick was awarded to the Ducks. (This is on top of the Ducks illegally touching the ball before 10 yards.)

What we want to know is why Allen Patrick #23 walked away from the pile so nonchalantly. Why wasn’t he immediately in the face of the official showing him the ball? Either way, this is the worst case of bad officiating we’ve seen in years. Even if the ref missed the onside call on the initial play, why didn’t instant replay catch his error? More reaction from the game from the national media.

[NewsOK]: Refs overlook possession

[The Wizard of Odds]: Turns Out, Oregon Didn’t Recover the Ball

NBA General

Players knocks out ref in Uruguay basketball league

This is an insane clip of an Argentian basketball player knocking out a ref Kermit Washington style. Will this ever happen in the NBA?

Also, check out this short clip of a hockey player fighting with a ref.