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The Press Box For Jan. 24

By Staff | Jan 24, 2018

What used to be called a no-contact sport is rapidly becoming one of the most physical sports in the business. From grasshopper leagues to the NBA, contact is being allowed and even encouraged. I played a lot of basketball in my time, but I don’t know if I could play, or even if I would even want to, the way it is now. The norm is to bump and shove; body contact is being allowed.

I know some will disagree, but in WVU’s loss to Oklahoma on the road, the Mountaineer’s Carter hit a three-pointer at the buzzer that brought the game to within one point. If the game would have been called the way it should have been, Carter would have been at the line, shooting for a tie. I am sure if, say, seven minutes had been on the clock, a foul would have been assessed, and it would have been a four-point play. Contact is contact, and I just think they should start getting it right. Basketball is a game that demands physical, mental and emotional toughness, and players can build that with perseverance. The physical pain of collisions and injury can be avoided by the toot of a whistle. The emotional pain of losing can be avoided by using the whistle properly. You’ll see a lot of no-call pushing and shoving, and then next you see a touch foul. Doesn’t make sense to me, but like I said before, times are changing.

I see way too much going to the replay monitor, looking at who touched this ball or that ball and not enough of who fouled who. Why is it that everytime a bad call is obvious, and a coach questions it, the next time down floor there’s, what seems like, a make up call? Every fan sees it, and they all remark on it. The worst thing that ever happened in basketball, in my opinion, is going to three refs. Now they play position, and if they miss a call, the other official doesn’t want to call it or over-rule him. If he does, he is in trouble for doing it.

These monitors and missed calls just add fuel to the fire for opponents and crowds looking for ways to undermine all aspects of the game. As a coach or a player, it’s hard not to take your role personally. You play as hard as you can; you pour out your talent, and to be robbed of a basket – or even worse a game – is easily seen as a personal failing. I have seen some great officiating this year, but the bad has far outweighed the good. Everyone knows there will never be a perfect called game; however, let’s at least give it our best shot.

Basketball is a game of courage. It is a game that involves tireless physical and mental effort, even in the wake of overwhelming odds and heartbreak. I say, let the teams determine who wins the games. Talent, that you build over the years, can carry you to great heights, but it can only take you so far if there is outside interference corrupting your skills. High school basketball officiating is, for the most part, very good, but what I’ve witnessed on the college level this year leaves a lot to be desired.

I personally know some kids this year who have become frustrated and are ready to give the sport up. One told me she was working hard to better her game – she had learned to position well and would go straight up with the ball on offensive rebounds – only to have larger girls on her back with no calls.

Another told me that he gets fouled nearly everytime he drives to the bucket but hardly ever gets the call. Another mentioned he believes favoritism is shown to players who have high scoring averages.

I don’t know how it all plays out, but I did take some pictures for myself just to see. Many of those complaints turned out to be justified. I don’t know all the rules concerning fouls, but I do believe when a players shot is altered by contact, a foul should be called no matter what point of time in the game it occurs. They used to say the hand is part of the ball, but he got him with the body! Maybe that has changed, because I sure see a lot of body contact not being called.

A wise old coach once said, “No one should have to carry a team on their back; you persevere. not only out of personal strength, but out of consideration for your team, who continues to train and give all their effort for you as well.” That should be a training quote for officials who take away a team’s glory by showing favoritism to certain schools or players.

Many times I’ve heard announcers say, “Well, if you’re so and so, you get that call.” I disagree. No one should get a call based on who they are or are not. Great coaches and great players have inspired themselves with the unbreakable drive inherent to becoming successful, and win or lose, they will reach their goals. Role players, however, need consistency from officials to gain the respect they deserve, for being a part of a team, whether they are good or bad.

Basketball is a great sport and is definitely my favorite. I like the way it has changed, in a way, but it’s disturbing that highly-trained, dedicated athletes often lose their glory because of things beyond their control. Today’s athletes jump higher, run faster, and have better skills. Many even shoot better. However, you can spend eight hours a day practicing your shooting, but if your form is wrong, the only thing you get better at is shooting, the wrong way.

Speaking of shooting, the article we ran last week on Richard Summers had a couple mistakes that I would like to clear up. First off, the team his senior year was not ranked number one in the state; they were, however, ranked number one at times in his junior year. Second, the coach of the team his senior year was none other than Ravenswood’s Mick Price. Ray Barnhart was the coach during Richard’s junior year. These corrections were brought to my attention by Allen Robinson, former sports editor of the West Virginia Associated Press at the time, who compiled the stats for the state. I appreciate Allen’s correction; however, none of it diminishes the accomplishments Richard achieved.

We’ve all heard of the Biblical Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. There is also the golden rule for living that we were often taught. I still have a copy of it that was given to me by one of my eight grade basketball coaches. 1. If you open it, close it. 2. If you turn it on, turn it off. 3. If you unlock it, lock it. 4. If you break it, admit it. 5. If you can’t fix it, call someone who can. 6. If you borrow it, return it. 7. If you value it, take care of it. 8. If you make a mess, clean it up. 9. If you move it, put it back. 10. If it belongs to someone else, get permission to use it. 11. If you don’t know how to operate it, leave it alone. 12. If it’s none of your business, don’t ask questions.

Not sure that any of them directly apply to sports, but it sure would make an impact if everyone involved with sports, including myself, would adhere to those standards, especially the Biblical Golden Rule. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com.