Fouls played on the basketball court

As a twenty-three year official, I have never met a ref who consciously tried to alter a game's outcome. However, it is commonplace for coaches and players to question a referee's impartiality. Ironically, it is the players and coaches whose motive to win gives them an inherent self-interest in challenging a call.

When I blow my whistle, teams will invariably respond based on how it fits in with the winning objective. Those that stand to gain applaud while those who stand to lose complain. No coach or player from the winning team has accused me of cheating for them.

However, I have encountered numerous instances where the losing team asserted that I sided with the victors. When a game is analyzed in the aggregate, no single call, no missed lay-up or errant free throw determines the outcome. A team's fate lies in the culmination of hundreds of opportunities presented during a contest along with individual preparedness, athleticism, skill level and luck.

Tallying the number of fouls is a common tactic used to justify a basketball team's claim of inequity. Different styles of play, the offenses or defenses used, the team member's varying skill levels, and the players' athleticism can all account for a disparity in the number of fouls earned by each team. With this in mind, rules interpretation is a constant source of misunderstanding with some commonly occurring fouls:

There is an erroneous belief that when contact occurs a foul took place. Referees use the concept of advantage versus disadvantage. Therefore, during the flow of play when contact occurs and neither player was put at a disadvantage, the whistle is not blown.

Confusion reigns with the "over the back" infraction. Given the disparity in height amongst the athletes, it is not uncommon for a taller player to grab a rebound from behind the offensive player with no significant contact.

The count for the "three in the key" violation is equivalent to three "real" seconds. Each time the offensive establishes possession they are entitled to an another three seconds. Additionally, when an offensive player is in the key for two seconds then leaves, she can reenter the key for three more seconds. I've observed offensive players incorrectly execute picks by bumping into the defender. In actuality, the defender can make incidental contact with the screener.

Some High School rules deviate from those used by NBA and college teams. For example, a shooter cannot rebound an "air ball" in the NBA or College. In the Parks Department, if an "air ball" is deemed a shot, that player can retrieve the rebound.

With respect to the refs' responsibilities, one is assigned to watch the play around the ball and the other the off-ball action. With the "block-charge" call a misperception persists that a defender cannot move. On the contrary, a defender who has established a position can move in a recoiling motion to absorb the impact of the dribbler but cannot move laterally to initiate contact.

If a ref judges a ball was kicked intentionally, then a violation is whistled.

The sides and top of the rectangle-shaped backboards are in play.

Joe Kadushin may be reached at[[In-content Ad]]