Sports Outside the Beltway

Fans Don’t Pay to See Referee’s Ego

All the wailing by commentators notwithstanding, Fort Worth Star-Telegram Staff Writer Gil LeBreton thinks it was about time for Joey Crawford to get canned.

The NBA has drawn more than 21 million ticket buyers during the 2006-07 season. None of them, I’m guessing, paid their way to see Joey Crawford referee.

The most capriciously officiated league in professional sports finally admitted it Tuesday. By suspending Crawford indefinitely for his actions in the Mavericks-San Antonio Spurs game Sunday, the NBA gave credence to the long-held belief that its game officials sometimes have their own agendas.

The sad part is that, despite his histrionics, Crawford has not been a bad referee. You could make a case, in fact, that with 31 years in the business, he is among the NBA’s best. But he’s done. Done for this season. Done for the playoffs. Quite possibly done forever as an NBA referee. Done, for being too arrogant, too haughty, too … too Joey for his own good.

In all sports, refs play too large a role. In the cases of baseball and basketball, it’s about ego. In the NFL, it’s a product of too many rules that require too much discretion. Either way, it’s a problem that needs addressing.

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