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  

Choong Hoon Lim

Indiana University Bloomington

Ryan M. Rodenberg

Florida State University - College of Education; Florida State University - College of Law

Date Written: November 23, 2009

Abstract

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

Lim, Choong Hoon and Rodenberg, Ryan M., Payback Calls: A Starting Point for Measuring Basketball Referee Bias and Impact on Team Performance (November 23, 2009). European Sport Management Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 375-387, December 2009 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1584967

Choong Hoon Lim

Indiana University Bloomington ( email )

100 South Indiana Ave.
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

Ryan M. Rodenberg (Contact Author)

Florida State University - College of Education ( email )

Tully Gym 1002
1114 W. Call Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306-4450
United States
850-645-9535 (Phone)
850-644-0974 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://education.fsu.edu/faculty-and-staff/dr-ryan-rodenberg

Florida State University - College of Law ( email )

425 W. Jefferson Street
Tallahassee, FL 32306
United States
850-645-9535 (Phone)
850-644-0974 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://education.fsu.edu/faculty-and-staff/dr-ryan-rodenberg

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