1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

When you know the officials screwed up ...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by stix, Feb 23, 2021.

  1. stix

    stix Well-Known Member

    After nearly 20 years doing this, I had a first at a boys basketball regional final game Saturday night.

    During the 2nd half, a kid from the losing team hit a 3-pointer off an inbounds play that was clearly a 3. The official bookkeeper somehow didn't see this and counted it as a 2. I keep a running score and detailed notes and soon noticed my score was a point off.

    At the next stoppage, I went to the scorer's table to check. The visiting guy had it as a 3, but the home guy (and therefore the official book) had it as a 2. He conferred with the refs briefly, the point was added momentarily, then it was taken away again.

    Well, of course, the team that didn't get the point wound up losing on a 3 at the buzzer. Crazy. Big controversy here, I've done a couple stories and a column now.

    It was all just an honest, unfortunate mistake.

    However, as it was going down, I was pretty much sure it was a 3 and that the refs and the scorekeeper fucked it up. I was present when he was discussing with the refs, but I backed off. I don't feel it's my job to correct their mistakes or to ever even talk to refs during a game.

    But all along I knew it wasn't right, and it was soon revealed that was indeed the case.

    Just curious, what would you guys have done in the same spot? I covered and reported it honestly the best I could, but would you have said something during the game? I've been asked by confused bookkeepers and officials plenty of times before about scoring matters because they know I keep a detailed running score, but I always get leery of interjecting in these matters.
  2. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    I would have stayed out of it. I’m there to cover a game, not become part of the story. Believe me, I’ve been put in that position more than once.
    HanSenSE likes this.
  3. stix

    stix Well-Known Member

    Yep, agreed.

    I have, too, but definitely not where it decided a playoff game. I really hate when game officials try to get me involved in anything. Or parents for that matter. Plenty of times I've had to tell an angry parent or coach, "I'm just a reporter! Stop asking me these things."

    I mean, seriously, had I wanted to, I could've just stuck my nose in there and said I was 100 percent sure it was a 3 (because it was) and they'd better talk about it. They didn't spend much time on it, though. The officiating was awful all game, a trend I've noticed during the pandemic as I'm sure it's not easy to find officials.
  4. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Well-Known Member

    Full disclosure: I am the son of a longtime basketball official.

    Sportswriters' books are NOT official. I kept one because not only did I know how to score a game bookwise before I could get a drivers' license, but also because it helped track other stats like fouls, blocks, rebounds and assists. Keeping a good book made basketball a matter of carrying a reporter's notebook to track notable runs and the odd nugget or two.

    A good friend of mine ended up in one of those situations, and was told fairly honestly by the official at the table that they trusted him before either of the scorekeepers at the table. Strange and while it shouldn't be done, the reality is that sometimes the unofficial book is more trustworthy. Unfortunately, some of us have seen a lethal combination of clueless officials and scorekeepers at the table paying attention to anything but the game and really don't know what to look for, to boot ... and this is what can happen.
    Liut and maumann like this.
  5. stix

    stix Well-Known Member

    Yep, I would say that's a totally accurate description of what happened. I know my stats are never official, but as you said, they're usually accurate.

    Not to sound arrogant, but I'm sure any of us who've been doing this awhile absolutely keep a better book or stats than anyone else. I can chart just about anything during the course of a basketball, baseball or football game without breaking a sweat. If there's a mistake by the officials, I'm usually the one that's right.

    The only thing that was weird to me was that in this instance, they spent almost no time discussing to get it right. Like they shrugged and just said, "OK." And the guy keeping the book was the home team's AD. He's a good guy, just somehow made a mistake that the referees should've caught but didn't.

    It's just weird watching the rest of the game and being the only one in the gym at the time who knew the score was wrong.
  6. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    That sucks. I feel like all you can hope for is that a scorekeeper notices a possible mistake right away and asks you or someone for clarification. Too much of a slippery slope if you try to address it any later.
  7. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you played it the right way.

    I've been at games and been asked "what do you have" when I check the official scorebook at halftime and, say, have given a basket to a different player. But not as big a deal as shorting a team points.

    Anyway, the two scorekeepers met with the ref and they made their decision. After that, the score is whatever they decided it is (wrong or not).
    Liut likes this.
  8. Tarheel316

    Tarheel316 Well-Known Member

    Exactly. I won’t pull a basketball version of Michael Bamberger. I’m just there to report.
    Liut likes this.
  9. HanSenSE

    HanSenSE Well-Known Member

    Applies to other sports as well. Like when a baseball or softball team bats out of order. It's their job to keep it straight, not yours.
  10. ChrisLong

    ChrisLong Well-Known Member

    I got involved once. I rode the bus with a high school baseball team to a playoff game. On the way back, one of the players I knew said that their scorebook was messed up and asked if I could help them. So I used my book to fix there's.

    On football stats, someone challenged me one time. I said, "What are people going to believe, what's published in the paper or what some 17-year-old kid came up with?"
  11. Sam Mills 51

    Sam Mills 51 Well-Known Member

    In addition ... to act any other way is to do what S-P - Ron Drogo - loathed:

    "We are not the story. We are the story tellers."

    (Yeah, I saw the thread 10 years later. How time flies. Who was that guy in the elevator?)
    HanSenSE likes this.
  12. Dog8Cats

    Dog8Cats Active Member

    Former (and maybe future) HS sports official. Not second-guessing anyone, and not sure about the current state of national federation rules on what I think is termed correctable error.

    Here's how I hope I would have acted. Once I realized that there seemed to be a discrepancy, at the next timeout, I would have respectfully mentioned my qualms to the official scorekeeper (loud enough for the visiting scorekeeper to hear, of course). THEN step aside ... and let them sort it out.

    If I remember correctly, a situation such as this is subject to correction if it's before the second dead ball after the play in question.

    To me, what I mention above isn't part of becoming the story ... it's part of trying to keep an accurate account of a game.

    @MileHigh, you do football right? You do basketball as well? Could the error have been corrected?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page