Officiating has been a huge conversation this season in the NBA. Players have complained about how referees have treated them all season long, and we have had a couple big incidents over the course of the season. However, the memory span is short in the NBA and during these NBA Finals we’ve only been somewhat reminded of the league’s officiating problems during the first two games.
Nevertheless the NBRA — the ref’s union — still feels as though they were coming under attack enough that they had to make a statement during these pivotal moments of the NBA postseason. Their response, presumably a response to cries of poor officiating, is an announcement that the NBRA will be live tweeting Game 3 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The NBRA says they will watch the game and respond with reactions to the game and presumably give explanations to whistles.
The announcement came via a tweet on the official account of the NBRA, which referenced NBA Twitter by name, a move that does seem a little bit reactionary to the conversation online being led by fans.
Of course there has been a concerted effort by the referees to help amend their image over the last part of the season. Even recently, a story on ESPN by Kevin Arnovitz went in-depth on how officials make their calls during the culmination of the season. It’s a good read if you haven’t checked it out, but the move to live tweet the game on social media is sort of an odd one if you ask me.
There’s pretty much no way this goes well for the NBRA. If the officials make a bunch of obviously bad calls and try to defend them on Twitter, the online community will roast them. If the game is uneventful, it will be hard to spice up and add appreciation of officials for fans watching the game.
I also think there is something to be said about hoping that some kind of informational campaign about the referees and the toughness of their job will help influence the middle of the bell curve when it comes to online fans. Some people just aren’t open to hearing that kind of rational talk, which sort of comes with the territory of both being a fan and when your emotions fly without restraints during a sporting event.
More explanation is good, and kudos to the NBRA for trying even if it is reputation management. It’s a big swing to live tweet a game and explain calls, however. Let’s hope it goes well for them.