The NBA announced some major new investments in its referee program on Thursday. The league will create an advisory council on officiating starring Gen. Martin Dempsey and former U.S. Education Secretary/Celebrity Game scoring record holder Arne Duncan. The league will go on a hiring spree and work to keep crews more rested and use virtual reality to train refs.
Perhaps most importantly, the league will invest in a “data-driven game review system to create objective referee measurement standards and track progress regarding call accuracy and errors per game over multiple seasons.” That reads to me like “robot judge who will decide if refs are good or bad and keep score forever.” The National Basketball Referees Association hasn’t commented on this or any other aspect just yet, but Synergy for Referees seems like something they might oppose. We’ll see.
It’s pretty fascinating to me that the league is now investing lots of resources (time, money and headspace) to officiating issues but didn’t do much back in the wake of the Donaghy scandal. Technological advances have made all of this much more accessible. But Adam Silver has made improving the way the game is officiated a much bigger priority than David Stern, despite Stern presiding over the biggest ref scandal in any American sport in decades.