A lot has been made about the quality, or lack there of, of referees for professional and college sports of late.
Perhaps the biggest incidents took place in a pair of marquee games in the NBA and NFL over the weekend.
NBA referees got lambasted for missing a call late in a Boston Celtics victory over the Los Angeles Lakers that would have sent LeBron James to the free throw line with a chance to win the game. They later apologized for that mistake.
Meanwhile, NFL refs came under fire for a number of calls and non-calls in the AFC Championship Game. Bengals fans felt referees missed a critical holding call on Kansas City late in the contest.
Does it look like Trey Hendrickson was held two times on this play? pic.twitter.com/SpeRFePIiM
— Faux Joey Brrr (@FauxJeaux) January 30, 2023
While they also believe a block in the back call could have been made on a pivotal Chiefs punt return just minutes prior.
Chiefs punt return blatant illegal block in the back on a Bengals player!! No call. 4th QTR 40 somethin seconds left and you dont call a very serious penalty #NFLRIGGED pic.twitter.com/DTMRH1pJmP
— dN Street (@dNstreeeet) January 30, 2023
But ultimately it was a third-quarter first down call on a catch by Kansas City receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling that caught the most heat.
Insane Travel Schedule Shows Just How Rough The Refereeing Crisis Is In Sports
Fans certainly have a right to ask for more consistency from referees. But it’s a remarkably difficult job as well. Which is why the top referees around the country are in such high demand.
Just ask college basketball referee John Higgins.
Higgins is widely regarded as one of if not thee top college hoops referee in the country. Which is why he’s regularly tasked with officiating the top games. But in order to do so, he has to maintain a crazy travel schedule.
Just look at this graphic from an ESPN broadcast on Monday night.
I understand Higgins works this kind of schedule because—at the end of the day—coaches want the best refs working their games. Fans can disagree, but he’s viewed/graded highly across the board.
And yet: this travel sked isn’t conducive to optimal results. Shouldn’t be happening. pic.twitter.com/QEXD4uZrH0
— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) January 31, 2023
The graphic shows that Higgins traveled to six cities in seven days for games from one coast of the country to the other.
It’s a testament to his ability. But it’s also extremely unsustainable, and fans agree.
Whew he needs some rest https://t.co/5gaVpZquj4
— Clint Parks (@ClintParks05) January 31, 2023
That is a BRUTAL travel schedule https://t.co/CkjqJG1AdB
— House of College Hoops (@CollegeHoopsHE) January 31, 2023
It’s almost like it’s hard to find good referees anymore… I wonder why? https://t.co/HH4WUeC8WK
— madison (@the_blanchise) January 31, 2023
No wonder these refs suck all the time. They’re jet lagged out of their minds. https://t.co/QY37g7NaB7
— Nick Neely (@ukfanneely) January 31, 2023
the stanford game tipped at 10 pm ET on saturday and the purdue game tipped at 12:15 pm ET on sunday this probably shouldn't be allowed https://t.co/9oNq93FcRd
— Bill DiFilippo (@billdifilippo) January 31, 2023
The refereeing crisis in sports is very real. And it’s only going to get worse if we don’t scare cutting officials some slack.