Losing On Purpose…what if I were on this game???

Deadspin reports that two girls’ basketball teams in Tennessee tried to lose a postseason game in order to avoid a national powerhouse later in the postseason (the winner would wind up on the powerhouse’s side of the bracket). The state association wound up tossing both teams from the postseason–I think wisely. The game was Saturday, the story broke last night and was picked up pretty much everywhere today.

Deadspin’s story is here–note the videos, which are thoroughly damning.  The local paper reports it here.

Not surprisingly, I go immediately to the officials’ perspective.  In the over-and-back video, the C official nearest the camera gives his view perfectly with that smirk/grimace as he turns to the side.  It’s obvious what is happening.

So what ought the crew to do in a similar situation?

The rulebook gives us the option in 5.4.1 to forfeit the game.  Forfeit situations include failure to go along with a technical foul penalty or “other acts which make a travesty of the game.”  That is clearly happening here, but there are two problems.  First, since the team wants to lose, that won’t help them.  Second, there’s no stipulation in the rulebook for a double forfeit, which is clearly called for here.

So there’s not much the officials can do beyond what they did.  In fact, the most important thing the crew chief did was not to talk to the coaches–that only happened when a team was about to shoot a hoop at the wrong basket.  It was the really strong game report he wrote, much of which is included in the stories I link to above.  He listed enough issues that were happening and let the state sort it out.  I also think that the officials were fortunate that the antics were videoed and wound up on Twitter.  There is no misinterpreting what was happening there.  It’s nice to see social media work to our advantage for once.

So if I were in this situation, I’m not sure there’s much I can do beyond what the officials did.  Good job to the crew, all in all, based on what I see.

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

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