NBA to crack down on technical fouls

ESPN reports.  And yes, people are complaining about this.  In addition to the usual “but the refs really suck!!!!11” rants, there are people complaining this crackdown is too draconian.  I, not surprisingly, do not agree.  Let’s consider the list of actions the NBA says will be hit with Ts henceforward:

Referees have been instructed to call a technical for:

• Players making aggressive gestures, such as air punches, anywhere on the court.

• Demonstrative disagreement, such as when a player incredulously raises his hands, or smacks his own arm to demonstrate how he was fouled.

• Running directly at an official to complain about a call.

• Excessive inquiries about a call, even in a civilized tone.

In addition, referees have been instructed to consider calling technicals on players who use body language to question or demonstrate displeasure. They can also consider technicals for players who “take the long path to the official”, walking across the court to make their case.

I can live with all of these.  The “aggressive gestures” incite negative crowd response, and in the NFHS book, actions designed to provoke negative crowd reactions get T’d up.  The same is true with demonstrative disagreement.  Players and coaches are deliberately demonstrative to incite negative crowd reaction–and that kind of lack of sportsmanship (let alone possible lack of safety that follows) is certainly T-able.  The  next two, running directly at an official to complain and excessive civilized inquiries, are not quite as severe, although the players who run directly at me are not 7 feet tall (which would probably be a far different experience, and one I’d want to stop).  Civilized inquiries are okay until I ask them to stop…if they continue thereafter, a T is fine (although they rarely continue thereafter, at least in a continued civilized tone).

I guess I do not understand those who are complaining about this.  Setting aside whether or not officials are good, or control freaks, or whatever, and simply looking at the expanded rules, what’s wrong with them?  Why should players have the right to behave in this fashion?  I’m not seeing it.


About Paul Hamann
I am a basketball referee in Washington State, working mostly high school games.

2 Responses to NBA to crack down on technical fouls

  1. jwrosenzweig says:

    Paul, do you know if the last point — the “excessive civilized inquiries” rule — requires that a player be warned before a technical is called? Because I can imagine that, without a warning, a player might reasonably feel that a technical’s unwarranted…especially as “excessive” will vary a lot depending on official personality, mood, game situation, etc. I agree with your essential point — that all of the above (with the exception of the civilized inquiries….maybe) are merely designed to intimidate officials into behaving a certain way, and that this should be a technical foul. Let’s face it — a technical isn’t going to destroy a team’s ability to win, but the teams that want to keep their edge are going to learn to play gentlemanly and composed under pressure….not a bad move for the NBA at all. I might even watch a few NBA games again if they succeed….as long as the Heat don’t go 80-4 and make a parody of the league.

    • Paul Hamann says:

      I do not, James. But it seems to me that the only way to sell that call to a coach or to the league would be to provide a warning. I will continue to do so–show a coach my palm when it’s time to stop civilized inquiry.

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