By Shain Gillet
From the sidelines
The board of the Utah High School Activities Association decided, well, not to decide on the question of adding referees in high school basketball games last week.
The vote to table the issue may not have been what some fans were hoping for, but next time the board meets, in August, I encourage a vote that would increase the number of referees.
Kevin Dustin, the director over basketball and four other sports for the Utah High School Activities Association, said the decision came because there were too few 5A and 4A members at the meeting.
He insisted the final vote on the matter should include everyone in the classification, meaning that if 5A members want an extra referee, they’ll all have a say in why or why not.
Personally I hope the measure passes. Having three referees throughout the regular season and into the playoffs can only improve the quality of play during games. Although it may lead to more whistles, and a little more money from the schools involved, I’m sure the games will be better for it.
Now, two referees monitor each basketball game during the regular season. An extra referee is added to the boys’ games for the playoffs; however, there are still only two referees in girls’ basketball playoff games.
I don’t know the reasons for that, but an additional referee would bring some uniformity to boys’ and girls’ games.
Detractors will say, or may have already said, that the addition of a referee would only add one more whistle to the games and slow them down to a snail’s pace.
I disagree: the addition of a referee may actually improve the pace of play. Players might be less willing to commit fouls knowing that there will be an extra set of eyes on the floor at all times, the result of which could be quicker games.
While the board is on the subject of rules, it should consider adding a shot clock. A lot of games end with one team “holding” the ball in the final minutes, making an exciting game grind to a halt and resulting in a less-than-stellar finish.
While there are several other things I believe the high school basketball game could use, the issues of refs is one I believe should pass through all the classifications, and for both boys’ and girls’ games.
I’m positive the move will pass through in at least one of the classifications, even if it means the schools must spend a little more money.
Having an extra set of eyes can only help a crew make the right call.