Which Sport Has The Worst Officials? | Sports Takes & News | TooAthletic.com
From balls and strikes, to holding and passing interference, to blocks and charges, to tripping, the umpires, referees, and officials who work our favorite sports often appear at the worst possible times. Yet, amazingly, a new survey finds many sports fans trust those arbitrating our sports, with some scoring very high in fan confidence. Which sport officials did the best, and which sport, in the eyes of fans, have the worst officials around?
“Kill the umpire!” is a phrase that children first learn when told the story of Casey at the Bat. Despite that predisposition to disliking them, Major League Baseball umpires scored the highest among fans when asked the question “How often do officials in each sport make the right calls?” by Morning Consult. Over half (51%) of respondents said that those four umpires on the field were “almost always” right with their calls, with another 38% adding they were sometimes right. The remaining 11% said MLB umpires were either “rarely” or “almost never” right.
While more evenly split between almost (47%) and sometimes (43%) right, nine in ten fans surveyed felt that officials in the NFL were pretty good at what they did. Behind pro football was the NHL (46% & 38%) and the NBA (44% and 42%), with college football and basketball referees combining for an 87% favorability rating among fans with their negatives being slightly lower than the pro counterparts. At the bottom of the survey was Major League Soccer, with only 81% finding officials were almost or sometimes correct when they blew their whistles; that while one in five proclaimed there were rarely or never right when they did so.
When posted by Morning Consult, the survey lists league officials based upon how high they scored in the “almost always” right category. For me, however, looking at the overall confidence scores tells me officials in the NBA and MLS rank at the bottom. This way of looking at the results fits a belief that I have, which is when athletes complain more about referees and officials, the faith that fans have in the calls they are making goes down. That is why when NBA coaches and players speak out against game officials, it is often followed by a letter from commissioner Adam Silver with an envelope to place their fine check into before mailing it back to the league offices.
It is not only those words that lower fan confidence in basketball and soccer officials, but in both sports, with flopping for calls being so prevalent, is it any wonder those watching at home believe that with almost every interaction a foul has been missed or called incorrectly?
Think about it, even with your HDTV or from your seat in the stands, a split-second exchange between guards on the hardwood or striker and defender on the pitch might look like a foul … but when a player hits the court or the grass after an exchange, aren’t fans more likely to believe something happened?
Athletes have a strong influence over fans in ways they may not realize, with this poll providing one of those ways. I am sure if Morning Consult asked if sport officials changed how they called fouls and penalties late in games, fans of basketball and soccer would have a much lower rating for them when compared to most of the other sports, with football officials likely joining them. This isn’t exactly how the NBA would like to enter their postseason, however, thanks to the players confirming their beliefs, basketball fans will be sitting back over the next two months waiting for that one bad call that changes a game or a series.
How can we begin to change this perception? Perhaps start by telling players to stop flopping and tell coaches to stop working the refs in the media. That would be a good start because when it comes to sport referees and officials, perception is reality with the fans.
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Which Sport Has The Worst Officials? | TooAthletic.com
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