Payback Calls: A Starting Point for Measuring Basketball Referee Bias and Impact on Team Performance
European Sport Management Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 375-387, December 2009
14 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2010
Date Written: November 23, 2009
Recent scandals in sports have (re-)emphasized the need for targeted monitoring that is legal, reasonable and effective. The National Basketball Association (NBA) provides an ideal environment to measure the effect of individual referees on team performance and non-conclusively test for possible bias by referees against league teams and affiliated individuals. In the course of analyzing 654 games and 77 referees over seven NBA seasons, we find that no NBA referee had a significant adverse effect on team performance or exhibited bias against the Dallas Mavericks when considering all games (regular season and playoffs). However, when analyzing only the 80 playoff games involving the team, we find one example of an NBA referee having a significantly adverse effect on team performance. Retribution theory is used to explain the possibility of such a prima facie finding. Nevertheless, given our use of nonconclusive indirect detection methods, such a finding merely gives rise to a rebuttable presumption.
Keywords: Bias, Referees, National Basketball Association (NBA), Forensic Economics
JEL Classification: L83
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation