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Archive for Saturday, January 25, 1992

OFFICIALS CODDLED TOO MUCH

January 25, 1992

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If Adonis Jordan, Chip Hilleary, Tony Sands or Alonzo Jamison have a bad game for Kansas, they read about it. They hear penetrating critiques from coaches, and fans, particularly on those anything-goes-for-ratings talk shows. Man, what some of those throats get away with!

Roy Williams and Glen Mason make bad choices, they get flak.

How come athletic officials are sacred? Which saint saturated them with holy water and put 'em off-limits?

Thought about this recently when Dallas Mavericks basketball coach Richie Adubato was fined $3,000 by the NBA for making disparaging remarks about officiating in a loss to the Seattle.

``The ref took the game away from us,'' Adubato said. `` . . . The ref can't take the game away from the players just because he's mad at the coach. Coaches lose jobs because of refs' blown calls.''

How about refs losing their jobs because of legitimate complaints from coaches?

WHY ARE OFFICIALS treated as if they're living in a biosphere in Arizona? You work in the kitchen, you get heat. You blow decisions, you need to answer for them.

KU's Williams is not allowed to voice his displeasure about officiating in Big Eight games. His complaints have to be filtered through athletic director Bob Frederick, then be photofaxed or sent by carrier pigeon to the league office to be pontificated over by John Erickson, in charge of the guys in striped shirts.

No, it cannot be allowed to deteriorate to name-calling and profanity. Referees can't react that way to coaches and coaches, players and other bench denizens shouldn't be allowed to do that. But the referees have the technical foul as a defense. The coaches must make the equivalent of a Mission to Moscow, with lousy Aeroflot connections, to express themselves, even nicely, about zebras.

Does Erickson further filter the rancor to keep referees happy? Does he face them down with hardcore charges from coaches so they fully understand the problem?

We hear a lot about coaches being fired? Do they ever can officials? If so, why isn't it explained the way a coach ouster is?

FATHER TIME has made inroads on my once-Pollyanna philosophy about athletic officiating. I used to be convinced that the refs, umps and the like were marvelous, dedicated, totally fair guys who did the very best they could and really didn't have great influence on how games turned out. I figured that if the players and coaches performed up to their capabilities, all the officials had to do was assured continuity, prevent riots, and let 'em play.

Recent years and notable occurrences in close, important games, have caused me to wonder if expansion has caused the same watering-down of officialdom as it has in many phases of sport too many assignments without enough of the truly talented people to fill all the squares.

Take Kansas' Jan. 18 squeaker at Colorado. Saw lots of local people Sunday, and while they were smiling in relief because KU won 81-80, the very next thing they wanted to discuss was the officiating, and just how kosher it might have been. When the home team (Colorado) shoots 18 free throws before the visiting outfit (KU) flips that first ball toward the charity hoop, you tend to wonder just how objective the men in charge might be, right?

OBVIOUSLY, Williams of Kansas had serious thoughts about what was going on. And although it should be mandatory to leave personalities out of it, why couldn't he be allowed to express his doubts after the game?

Colorado's Billy Law took his lumps for missing the free throw that would have sent the game into overtime. KU's Adonis Jordan was reminded that he hit a costly flat spell and has been less than all-world the past three games.

CU coach Joe Harrington doubtless was second-guessed by the Buffalo-prone guzzlers in the Coors Center for his role in the outcome. Williams would have had some critics if KU had lost.

So why should zebras be allowed to waltz off under the protection of a gag rule when they seem to be exerting increasing influence on the outcomes of contests?

DO OFFICIALS tend to favor home teams because of crowd intimidation? Are they as consistent as they need to be so kids will know what to expect? Are they faced down directly with misfeasances, malfeasances and nonfeasances in the same terms as a coach would tutor or admonish an athlete, or an athletic director would sit on a coach who got out of line?

I don't think Big Eight, or any other, officiating will be improved (and, Lord, it needs to be) by muzzles, front-office buffers, photofaxes and coddling by the director of officials.

Like the guy told Cool Hand Luke, seems what we have here is a failure to communicate about a serious problem.

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