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Do you buy into this? NBA refs racist?

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Do you buy into this? NBA refs racist?

Postby sportsaddict » Wed May 02, 2007 5:59 pm

This study seems fishy to me. I don't buy into this at all, seems like a bunch of people trying to create a problem that's not there. Does it have something to do with the fact that blacks are the overwhelming majority in the NBA?

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/news?slug=a ... &type=lgns

Report: Study suggests racial bias in calls by NBA referees
May 2, 2007

NEW YORK (AP) -- An academic study of NBA officiating found that white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players, The New York Times reported in Wednesday's editions.

The study by a University of Pennsylvania assistant professor and Cornell graduate student also found that black officials called fouls more frequently against white players than black, but noted that that tendency was not as pronounced.

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Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy at Penn's Wharton School, and Joseph Price, a Cornell graduate student in economics, said the difference in calls "is large enough that the probability of a team winning is noticeably affected by the racial composition of the refereeing crew."

The study, conducted over a 13-season span through 2004, found that the racial makeup of a three-man officiating crew affected calls by up to 4 1/2 percent.

The NBA strongly criticized the study, which was based on information from publicly available box scores, which show only the referees' names and contain no information about which official made a call.

"The study that is cited in the New York Times article is wrong," president of league and basketball operations Joel Litvin told The Associated Press on Tuesday night. "The fact is there is no evidence of racial bias in foul calls made by NBA officials and that is based on a study conducted by our experts who looked at data that was far more robust and current than the data relied upon by Professor Wolfers.

"The short of it is Wolfers and Price only looked at calls made by three-man crews. Our experts were able to analyze calls made by individual referees."

Litvin said the NBA's study, using data from November 2004 to January 2007, included some 148,000 calls and included which official made each call. The Times said the NBA denied a request by Wolfers and Price to obtain that information, citing its confidentiality agreement with the officials.

The study also found differences in everything from a decrease in scoring to a rise in turnovers depending on the officials' race.

"Player-performance appears to deteriorate at every margin when officiated by a larger fraction of opposite-race referees," Wolfers and Price wrote.

But the key finding was in regard to foul calls, saying "black players receive around 0.12-0.20 more fouls per 48 minutes played (an increase of 2 1/2 -4 1/2 percent) when the number of white referees officiating a game increases from zero to three."

The NBA has an observer at each game and closely monitors its officials, who are required to file reports after each game they work and are expected to be able to explain each potentially controversial call they have made.

Litvin said in an original version of the paper, dated March 2006, Wolfers and Price came to the conclusion that there was no bias. He added that the NBA's research "all prove beyond any doubt in our minds that these guys are just flat wrong."

"They reached conclusions in their own papers that are unsupported by their own calculations," Litvin said.

Wolfers and Price are set to present the paper at meetings of the Society of Labor Economists on Friday and the American Law and Economics Association on Sunday. The Times said they will then submit it to the National Bureau of Economic Research and for formal peer review before consideration by an economic journal.
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Postby knapplc » Wed May 02, 2007 6:01 pm

I thought the response by the NBA debunking the study was pretty convincing.
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Re: Do you buy into this? NBA refs racist?

Postby RedWoodTree824 » Wed May 02, 2007 7:02 pm

sportsaddict wrote:This study seems fishy to me. I don't buy into this at all, seems like a bunch of people trying to create a problem that's not there. Does it have something to do with the fact that blacks are the overwhelming majority in the NBA?


it's interesting that the black refs call more fouls on white players, though (according to the study). There seems to be a sufficient sample size needed for the study, however I would like to see the statistical results of the study before I make any decision about how I feel about the results. I think the NBA did a pretty bad job of disproving the results, and I would like to know why who calls fouls on which players should be considered confidential information.

An overall interesting article, regardless of whether the results are true or not.
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Postby SniperShot » Wed May 02, 2007 7:02 pm

knapplc wrote:I thought the response by the NBA debunking the study was pretty convincing.
Same here.

It's just so crazy to do a study on this because every game and every call is so different. Situations, players, tendencies, it's so hard. Some refs call more fouls overall than others on players of both race which can help skew the study. There's only so much you can do.

Interesting read though.
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Postby Philly_05 » Wed May 02, 2007 7:09 pm

The study is pointless but I wouldn't be dumb enough to think that some refs are not racist but the study means nothing.
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Re: Do you buy into this? NBA refs racist?

Postby teddy ballgame » Wed May 02, 2007 7:09 pm

RedWoodTree824 wrote:I would like to know why who calls fouls on which players should be considered confidential information.

Safety of the refs I would think. I think that's a pretty good reason.
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Postby RedWoodTree824 » Wed May 02, 2007 7:10 pm

SniperShot wrote:
knapplc wrote:I thought the response by the NBA debunking the study was pretty convincing.
Same here.

It's just so crazy to do a study on this because every game and every call is so different. Situations, players, tendencies, it's so hard. Some refs call more fouls overall than others on players of both race which can help skew the study. There's only so much you can do.

Interesting read though.


I agree that some situations can skew results, however (if the study was done correctly) a 13 season span consisting of 148,000 calls over 2004-2007 is a sample size that should be long enough to give good results. Also, (again if it was done right), the amount of skewed-ness in the data should not be a factor if the tests proved to be significant (have a p-error lower than 0.05 or even 0.01). If the p-error proves that the study was significant, then I would believe the study a little more. However, until I can see the statistical analysis, I have no idea how they came to these conclusions. If they used basic discriptive statistics then I would not believe it at all.
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Re: Do you buy into this? NBA refs racist?

Postby RedWoodTree824 » Wed May 02, 2007 7:11 pm

teddy ballgame wrote:
RedWoodTree824 wrote:I would like to know why who calls fouls on which players should be considered confidential information.

Safety of the refs I would think. I think that's a pretty good reason.


So I guess every time a ref makes a call on public television they should censor it?
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Re: Do you buy into this? NBA refs racist?

Postby teddy ballgame » Wed May 02, 2007 7:14 pm

RedWoodTree824 wrote:
teddy ballgame wrote:
RedWoodTree824 wrote:I would like to know why who calls fouls on which players should be considered confidential information.

Safety of the refs I would think. I think that's a pretty good reason.


So I guess every time a ref makes a call on public television they should censor it?

Did anyone say anything remotely close to that should happen? I can certainly see why they would try to keep it confidential as much as possible. Why does the public need to know who made what call? What good can possibly come from that?
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Postby SniperShot » Wed May 02, 2007 7:15 pm

RedWoodTree824 wrote:
SniperShot wrote:
knapplc wrote:I thought the response by the NBA debunking the study was pretty convincing.
Same here.

It's just so crazy to do a study on this because every game and every call is so different. Situations, players, tendencies, it's so hard. Some refs call more fouls overall than others on players of both race which can help skew the study. There's only so much you can do.

Interesting read though.


I agree that some situations can skew results, however (if the study was done correctly) a 13 season span consisting of 148,000 calls over 2004-2007 is a sample size that should be long enough to give good results. Also, (again if it was done right), the amount of skewed-ness in the data should not be a factor if the tests proved to be significant (have a p-error lower than 0.05 or even 0.01). If the p-error proves that the study was significant, then I would believe the study a little more. However, until I can see the statistical analysis, I have no idea how they came to these conclusions. If they used basic discriptive statistics then I would not believe it at all.
I agree. But is it 13 seasons from before and leading through 2004, or 2004-2007, because last I checked there were only 3 seasons played between 2004 and 2007. ;-7

If this study started in the early 90's I wonder how accurate it reflects current refs and the NBA today.
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