This is the third in a series of five posts on the topic of integrity of game play. The first post discussed the impact of various types of player misconduct on sportsmanship and game outcomes. Last week’s post debated whether tanking can be ethical and looked at numerous examples of tanking across different sports to compare how it happens and what its effect is. Today’s post is about referee bias and how it affects games, players, and teams. The fourth post, on March 14, will be about organizational cheating operations by teams. The fifth post and the last in the series, on March 21, will be about unethical leadership of coaches.
Teams and their fans often accuse referees of being biased or making unfair calls. Whenever players or spectators disagree with the call made or penalty assessed – which, for those on the wrong side of the outcome of the decision, is not all that rare – bias is often suspected or assumed.