overturning regulatory calls

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the premier professional basketball league in the U.S.  Officiating in the NBA is roughly equivalent to working in a federal regulatory agency, with NBA officials get getting somewhat more public appreciation and a lot less heckling.

In the 2008-09 NBA season, the number of calls that officials chose to reconsider on video (at least 1033 calls) was not much less than the number of games played (1230). Hence motions for video reconsideration were common.

NBA officials determine whether a shot attempt was a two-point shot or a three-point shot.  Requests for video reconsideration of such calls led to the overturning of 27% of those reviewed (140 out of 519 calls).  The calls for which officials request a review are close calls.  If in these circumstances officials calls were no better than random and the video review always determined the correct call, then 50% of the reviewed calls would be overturned.  With a overturn share of 27%, officials are overturning half as many reviewed calls as the random benchmark. Officials’ calls stood up better in reconsideration of clock decisions: 6% of those decisions (31 out of 514) were overturned.

Deciding correctly all regulatory decisions is difficult even for highly experienced, highly professional officials.  Unfortunately, watching video is of no help in many areas of regulation.

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These statistics are from the magazine Referee, December 2010, p. 61.

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