Years ago

Boti's article about NBL referees

Having read Boti's latest article and noticing the avalanche of criticism towards the refs lately (just visit any game thread), I thought this would be an interesting discussion.

There has been talk around the issue such as the type of game style we want umpired or how to deal with flopping & charges.

I'm interested in framing the discussion around this question:

How should the NBL approach giving rules & referees a direction and ensuring a strong consistent standard?

I say this noting a few quotes from Boti's article

At the 2013 preseason Blitz in Sydney, coaches and players alike were horrified as the transition began. I recall Mark Worthington after a game pointedly asking: "Are we playing netball now?"


Year One was a bit that way for a while but there was clear, defined direction from the referee leadership.

By Year Two (2014-15) there was tacit acceptance and adjustment as the game became far more attractive to watch


But those of us in the media already are abundantly aware how sensitive the NBL is to any sort of criticism or outspoken behaviour

A few points to consider:

#1 There is always criticism - sometimes it's justified, sometime's it's just players being players, coaches being coaches and fans being fans

#2 NBL appears to have an aversion to criticism

#3 There doesn't seem to be consistent refereeing nor accountability for bad ref games

#4 The direction at this point for lack of the NBL releasing a statement, can only be loosely interpreted by fans through what they see... and there doesn't appear to be anything for the NBL to point to when dealing with criticism by players or coaches

If I was the NBL, I would be establishing a process involving an independent referee advisory panel with a head referee and games allocated to refs on the basis of consistency and standard.

The NBL along with the panel establish and release a direction with the objectives/justifications behind them. Ie. Objective of a more entertaining game style with a direction in allowing offence space.

Actually outlining this will give them reason to put clarity into rules such as calling handchecking, defence out of place, defenders flopping & making no-calls where there is advantage to offence etc.

It's important to ensure the rules aren't too wishywashy, perhaps there is a basic procedure which may be best aided with post-game review for things like flopping or techs.

Ideally, each aspect informs eachother: Objectives inform direction which informs rules which informs the refs. Where the refs are wrong or inconsistent they can be trained to improve based on the direction.

Where the coaches or players complain they can be pointed back to the direction chosen.

At the end of the day, it's one thing to have rules that are umpired, it's another thing to do it in a professional league where the standard demands the degree and nuance to which rules are applied is consistent across the board.

Topic #40574 | Report this topic

Years ago

Hollywood Mal was head of the panel a year or two ago and he said there was a lot of angst from the refs as he was in a position of seriously effecting their livelihoods.

In saying that whinging about refs/umps is a thing a lot of fans (and some journos) love to do for some reason.

I'm not a ref and never known anyone that was but people make mistakes and some people like to bang on about the odd howler they make forgetting all the right calls they made throughout the game. I've just never understood it. No one calls for a player to be cut or face disciplinary action for shooting an airball, even if they did it once every game.

Reply #615627 | Report this post

Years ago

Nothing has changed in decades other than the refs are getting worse. Mayberry was never a great NBL ref early on and now he's senior. Nuff said.

Reply #615650 | Report this post

Years ago

Trouble is that if a current NBL ref puts in a bad game what then? Demote them to the SEABL or what ever league where they never ref? Protected species for way too long.

Reply #615653 | Report this post

Years ago

Just so you know refs get dropped from games so to say there is no accountability is wrong

There is very little game footage available to refs apart from what is on Foxtel which isn't always from the same angle as refs have. They have no access to other camera angles

They tried independent that didn't work, they have referee coaches in each state - the ones I know of are yes men and probably wouldn't know how to be critical, this makes it hard. They've pushed out or burnt out the older ones who weren't there to be friends with the refs

I dont know the answer

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Very Old  
Years ago

This is unstructured and unedited, and probably full of errors but-

Unfortunately the local talent pool in ALL OZ associations is very low , particularly in senior refs and even more so in referee coaches.

Most senior referee appointments are challenged internally on the basis of perceived nepotism.

The plum national junior champs positions are handed out by state/regional associations to referees who are seen to be favoured sons/daughters.There is essentially no national direction, so the local

The regional/association/stadium head ref is always trying to win their arguments over the state ref director, who has almost zero chance of ever seeing enough of the association referees to see any potential.

take the impact that the AIS had on player talent , it had a centralized philosophy and selection that was entirely judged upon external criteria - ie did these players go on to represent successful national teams. the AIS coaches had a clear direction, Hurley had them running all training's and development against a definition of what the international game required (eg a 6'5" Chris blakemore was unlikely to become a boomer power forward, SO make him into a Sf or even a guard if possible, 15 rebounds and 20 points a game in seabl is not success, he needs to be able to play in an international position or get another scholarship holder in to replace him.

make the refs system run the same way with a clear aim - produce referees that could referee the game in any competition, NBA, olympics, world champs, NCAA ,EURO -- its not their knowledge of the rules that count so much as their abilty to make quick and correct decisions under presure. we expect the players to be "good" in any league ( even with differing rules) so do the same with referees. A 100% written perfect score on a test is not the main requirement, having controle of a game and ypourself IS.

With the (very) old "australian Badge" a referee had to at least meet the criteria of the national refs body, irrespective of their "importance" within their own state.

the NBL did start to go down the right path with the appointment of the gang of three. It was actually building upon what maidenhall had began during his stint as national referees director.

What actually would work is to re-appoint all three again to actual full time referee coaching and review roles. paid for by the BNL with a small grant from BA.

they would work for BA in selecting/educating/reviewing the OZ referees for international tournaments, and for FIBA in providing the interpretation and education roles for Australia in its FIBA region.

For the professional leagued they do all reviewing, appointing, disciplining and educating the NBL refs during the NBL season, the WNBL refs during the WNBL season.

Do a part time and evaluation/education role only with the Seable and WA, QLD, VIc NSW, and Sa senior leagues' officials.

make it clear that if you want a real full time referee career in Oz you need to toe the philosophy as generated by the three very experienced professional and internationally recognized ex-referees.

All those three to do their job as a group of three quals and you would have a better referee system.

i hate how all the players and coaches believe that they can influence the calling of a game by yelling, ranting and raving. Do it in NCAA, NBA or WNBA leagues and you walk.

Euro is different because there you often have even the crowds throwing coins and being disrespectfull and physically threatening to everyone.

Reply #615659 | Report this post

Years ago

So where do they get dropped to? Last I knew was that every game had to be recorded locally. If that's changed so be it, but we saw tonight clearly a call reversed because the refs got it clearly wrong. Based on Foxtel replay.
Referees coaches I know of have never reff'd at elite level, let alone NBL level. It's always politics and unless the old school can bring these robots into the 21st century it's doom and gloom.
Communicate and be accountable. Have a personality and develop relationships with the on court players.
The refs now are shit scared of making a wrong decision. They miss calls and when challenged they crumble and tech players or coaches. If they saw the 1st foul and called it correctly. Move on. They miss the 1st one, the next call will possibly be correct but too late.
Don't call what you thought you saw is another one. I also hate so many travels. it's not Sepo land its Australia. Watch the pivot foot. You constantly see 3 - 5 lil steps all the time.

Reply #615663 | Report this post

Years ago

The complaints about the officiating on this board were mostly on those bad calls that had major impact on the outcome of the games. There's always some minor miscalls or missed calls in every game but the outcries didn't focus on those much.

Shooting air balls every game probably won't get punished much unless its the game winning shot you're air-balling every game. At the very least, you probably won't ever be allowed to shoot it or the coach will probably bench you for the end play.

There's no accountability at the moment, or at least it appears to be that way to us, the punters. Maybe Scott Butler may criticize or reprimand them in private but we won't know as the process isn't transparent. Personally I've noticed that there doesn't seem to be any time exclusion for the culprits.

I'm too lazy to investigate, but if you can find out who the refs were in each controversial game and check if those same refs were rostered the next round, then you can confirm that there's no accountability. Could be done if you want to check every FIBA boxscores.

Reply #615665 | Report this post

Years ago

I have an extreme dislike for how the current NBL refs put their hands on players hips etc...trying to be first name mates with them??
its kinda like a they are in awe of the players??

Reply #615668 | Report this post

Years ago

Yes they try to suck up to the players that they don't really know because they think that they are their mates. If a player touched a ref like that they would be ejected. That's how bad the game has got. Most refs are robots and fence posts. No personality, no communication skills and are told quite clearly just cover your zone. Most importantly there is generally no camaraderie between players and refs. The ol skool refs had banter, fun and enjoyment in what they did. Hell you would even have a beer with them after game. Long gone. Sad dayz indeed

Reply #615675 | Report this post

Years ago

The intention of this is not about demanding that refs never get a call wrong, nor an open slather to bash refs.

I guess the question is more about how the NBL can implement direction and clarity into the way the game is managed from a rules and refereeing aspect.

No doubt some of it does go to the competence of the refs hired and the relationship between players, coaches and refs as has been pointed out.

Zodiac brings up a critical point which was the core of Boti's article - the political aspect. If we've got a situation where refs are alienated by the prospect of being kept to standards by a direct boss with a focus on reviewing their work, then that's an issue the NBL ought to resolve.

Very Old, that was an interesting read - particularly as refs have to come from somewhere and if we're not developing them properly to begin with and it becomes a 'mates club' or faulty criteria is applied then those could be contributing factors that need to be addressed not just by the NBL but by BA and the local associations as well. Maybe even in partnership establishing a better referee training program?

I agree with SteveK2, there might be accountability...but we certainly don't know it and there's a real perception that refs aren't being held accountable. When you see inconsistent calls and bad refereeing, the basketball public wants to know it is or has been a) addressed and b) how it is addressed from a general aspect.

Without that, there's diminished confidence in the product of the game overall.

At the end of the day, we want #1 consistent refereeing, #2 accountability in refereeing, #3 clarity in rules and #4 clarity in direction so that we know what to expect ought to be called, and why. These will instill confidence in the game and it's about how we best achieve those.

Reply #615687 | Report this post

Years ago

Referee education is like the free masons, an old boys club.

In SA we have 2 full time staff (whom I will say nothing about as my mum said if I have nothing nice to say don't say anything) and a commissioner who wants to be everyone's friend. I only ever umpired junior district (Friday nights & Saturday mornings) & Church basketball. Some district umpires in charge were into education but others just wanted to chat up players & perve. Church basketball was much more focused on education and I received both positive and negative feedback most weeks and grew because of it.

Today's generation just want to be patted on the back, dealing with that is kinda important.

We are able to see every game on TV on PC on our phones it opens everyone up to much more scrutiny

Reply #615702 | Report this post

Years ago

I have a far stretched goal of refereeing in the NBL someday. I take it from this that I shouldn't bother trying as at that level it's an old boys club?

Reply #615709 | Report this post

Years ago

One person says the refs need to develop a relationship with players. Another gripes that they touch the players when communicating, saying they're sucking up. Another says we should call every little travel. Someone said last night we should ignore those. Who'd want to be a ref?

Reply #615710 | Report this post

cats 4 life  
Years ago

Boti should try, seems to cry a lot these days over the officiating.

Reply #615715 | Report this post

Years ago

Yeah, tough job, who would want to have every decision they make cop abuse from 50% of their audience every few minutes!?

While we hate on them often, we must also respect them and appreciate them as much as we, the players and coaches want to be respected in return.

Double standards are deplorable at any level, if the is an issue within the Australian Refereeing fraternity, then something needs to be done, urgently!

I challenge that the principles of consistency, accountability, clarity and direction are not already a focus of attention at the highest levels of officiating, everywhere. How well these principles are implemented and the overall results from our programs, processe and systems should be evaluated in an open and honest way, this may be where we feel the refereeing fraternity is less accepting of public criticism.

It is however wrong to be over critical of people who have the toughest job of all!

Reply #615716 | Report this post

Years ago

The unfortunate part of the current crop of refereeing at local levels is sub standard

Reply #615717 | Report this post

Very Old  
Years ago

Re : "Another says we should call every little travel. Someone said last night we should ignore those."

part of the experienced ref's coaches original rationale around relaxing this from the FIBA/NCAA rigidity in the NBA professional leagues was that once the travel made no difference to the effectiveness of the defence, the player should be allowed to shuffle in order for the game to deliver the spectacular, which is why people were paying to see it.

IE you could travel when in the clear, but not to elude close defence.

It has all been lost sight off in the following decades.

This is a great example of the way a ref had to adjust their calls, back when refs did NCAA and NBA games.

"I have a far stretched goal of refereeing in the NBL someday. I take it from this that I shouldn't bother trying as at that level it's an old boys club?"

being promoted is always an "old boys/old girls club" in the sence that its full of nepotism. its not that sort of club in that it is not open to new members. it actively needs and seeks new members as that is how the despots remain.

its that previously the nepotism was tempered by the fact that to get to the top NBL level, you also had to be accepted by the oldB/G above the local group, and that top group was run more as a meritocracy than the local guys.

So still go for it, you will just have to stroke the egos of the locals a lot, until you transcend their level. Mal and crew had to suck up to their local warlords at the start, after a while they just became too good to be ignored by the next level up, and were good enough to keep moving up. Others just remained at their first "peter principle" level of incompetance.

Reply #615721 | Report this post

Years ago

Not sure about the personalities but absolutely agree with the base issues raised by Boti in this and other related pieces.

Important discussion. Not an easy issue, but one that definitely needs to be addressed.

NBL & WNBL refereeing is a mess at present, whichever team you follow, and there is clearly no easy short-term fix, so mid to long-term vision and strength will be needed to tackle the issue. That will of course require men or women of vision and strength in the referee leadership/coaching positions because of the inevitable criticism 'from within', which will also make it vital for them to be confident of total - and active - support from the league owners/managers.

On the court they could start by focusing on applying more of the rules - as written - more often, if only because that is simpler than making 'value' call, which immediately makes calling more consistent. 'See it happen, blow it' is quicker and cleaner than 'See it, work out whether or not to blow it ...' If it's in the book the sport's rule makers think it needs to be called, so there's no need to think about it. Actually, by the time he or she has made the 'value judgement' the official has missed another two or three incidents or actions that should have been adjudicated according to the rules.

Thinking about it, maybe that is why we see refs miss three or four apparently fairly obvious calls then blow a 'cheapy' that often appears wrong, or at least out of context in light of what has been 'let go'.

Reply #615726 | Report this post

Years ago

I challenge that the principles of consistency, accountability, clarity and direction are not already a focus of attention at the highest levels of officiating, everywhere.

Indeed these principles might be attempted, but that goes to my question - how do we actually achieve those things?

How we do we approach it and what do we put in place to get those outcomes?

When I started this thread, my question was framed around that. I was attempting to avoid - and apparently to little success - the usual "refs suck" and the countered "refs can't be perfect/it would be hard to be a ref". Apart from venting, I don't think that achieves much.

Reply #615730 | Report this post

Years ago

I haven't read his article on refs yet because I am still reading Chapter 48 on his blog discussing what he thinks about the commentators.

Reply #615731 | Report this post

Years ago

He is really obsessed with Carfino isn't he.
Yeah no kidding!
I'm looking forward to some insightful new material on the subject in chapters 49-64 coming in January.

Reply #615732 | Report this post

Years ago

Let's not get carried away that Mal is the messiah. Prior to the gig Mal had done nothing for referee development and since his removal he hasnt done a thing in Victoria or anywhere else. So let's not think Mal is in the role for the end product...Mal is in it for Mal, simple!!!

The issue is since BA removed Mildenhall from the National Development role the peak body and the states have been clueless and headless. They have not developed one kid. Those who have developed have done so due to natural ability..not the program.

The above posters are correct around a boys club/ girls club. You only have to look at this years WNBL rookies to know its about who you know or if you're the trendy gender rather than how you blow the whistle. Decisional accuracy doesnt mean shit anymore.

Its time for BA to invest in officials. They invest in players but neglect a necessity like referees. Its a disgrace and the cupboard is bare... you cant pick the next ref into either elite panel, now that is a disgrace for the people in charge for the last 15 years....that includes Mal

Reply #615767 | Report this post

Years ago

Some interesting points above.

I like the comment about deciding on the underlying direction early on. It seems to me that the aim of the NBA is high-quality entertainment, whereas that of FIBA is more around quality of play. If that's the case then why CAN'T there be different rules?

I can understand that players who switch between NBA or US leagues and Euro or NBL will find it a bit confusing at first, but so what?! I can't see them staying away just because a few rules are different. I'd be more frustrated by inconsistency within the same league than differences between leagues.

I grew up playing when rules were called tightly and managed to go a long way. Australia produced many great players under tight calling of the rules, so it's not as though we need to get fuzzy with the rules in order to produce great players or games. All this inconsistency and value judgements and make-up calls really pisses me off!

If I think about the travel rule, for example, let the NBA allow the gather step and other variations, but FFS call travel by the FIBA rules in the NBL.

Reply #615792 | Report this post

Years ago

@KET, I agree with your statement, that is why the second part of the same paragraph I posted above covers it, just failed to show the whole and instead made a point of one part of it.

It makes remarks appear subjective when they are not. I have tried to be objective in my post without writing 'war & peace'...

Reply #615850 | Report this post

Years ago

sorry just failed to show the whole and instead made a point of one part of it.

Reply #615853 | Report this post


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