Friday, June 13, 2008

The fix is in

Photo by Flickr user Dan4th used under a Creative Commons license.

Noted economist, Tyler Cowen, provides a fresh look at the Tim Donaghy referee scandal.

Based on historical evidence, it's hard to argue that certain teams are favored over others. If this were true, small market teams would hardly ever make it to the Finals because the NBA, with profits in mind, would probably not allow it to happen.

Simply put, the Knicks would not be allowed to be so bad while the Jazz (for example) are so good. Why would the NBA rig last year's Western Conference semifinals (a series that was definitely heavily influenced by the referees and the league officials) in favor of the Spurs, a team with the worst Finals TV ratings in history, over the Suns, possibly the most entertaining team in the league? It doesn't make sense from a marketing standpoint or from a business standpoint to do so.

To those pointing out blatantly missed calls, why assume they aren't just mistakes or personal issues? Being a referee is harder than it looks, and maybe certain referees don't like certain teams, but this obvious evidence that the league is organizing a fix of the games? Certainly not, I'd say, if one thinks about the rationale behind a fix and the teams that the league would want to push forward (This Boston-LA Finals certainly isn't helping this point though).

Cowen does point out that the league is certainly "fixed" in that it heavily favors superstar players, but we all already knew this right? We know that Lebron and Manu will take 5 steps to the rim, but if Acie Law IV tries the same move, he's going to be called every single time.

As mentioned before, this is old news though, and probably more natural than anything. As a ref, if you know that a player is great, you're more likely to give him the benefit of the doubt than a player of questionable caliber. Maybe the League (I keep saying League when I really should say Association) encourages it, but honestly I don't think it matters. Almost every team has a superstar, and certainly every team can get one through the draft (Unless Billy Knight is your GM). All in all, I still think of this Association as the same one I knew and loved before this Donaghy business.

  • Is the NBA Fixed? [Marginal Revolution]