Poor WNBA officiating still the bane of league’s existence

This series will cover the WNBA’s 21st season with at least one story on the league weekly from the season’s May 13 opening to its closing on September 3 and through the 2017 playoffs

The WNBA deserves better officiating. Any expectance of seeing the three-person crews raise up their game as the playoffs begin next week is a pipe dream.

There are still some of us who easily remember the poor officiating job in last year’s post season, including the final game of the WNBA Finals, where a blown call unfortunately impacted the game’s final result.

The players and coaches, in fear of being fined, won’t comment on record, but there are plenty of fans who have expressed their frustration watching the officials’ poor performances.

“What do we want? New refs! When do we want them?  Now!” was chanted inside the downtown St. Paul hockey arena during the August 22 Minnesota-Phoenix contest.

“Ref, they are still fouling us and you’re not calling them,” one unnamed player loudly complained during a game.

This reporter, when not distracted by chatty reporters or the non-stop in-game noise, closely watches the consistently inconsistent ‘zebras.’ All season long, either in person or watching on television, it’s been one blown call after another:

A player falls down, and a player about two feet away is called for the foul.

A player clearly traveled but the defender was called for the foul. Soon after the ball was inbounds, an offensive foul was quickly called — we called it “a make-up call.”

A ball goes out of bounds, and the official calls it on the offensive team, but it was off the defense. A lengthy replay conference between the officials commenced before they correct the call — both Stevie Wonder and the late Ray Charles, along with the fans in the stands, saw it correctly when it happened.

Around a dozen calls on average are missed or botched, or just wrongly called during games. There hasn’t been a game this season that I’ve watched either in-person or on television where I can honestly say the game was remotely well-officiated.

The officials in the deciding moments of last season’s game five didn’t go to the monitor to re-check if a shot beat the shot clock or not — the shot didn’t and shouldn’t have counted. But this season the zebras have been in overboard mode, stopping play to check nearly every stinkin’ call. This has brought games to a momentum-killing halt.

Such over-reliance on technology is worse than not using it at all.

College referees have worked the games since the league’s first season when the WNBA referees used NBA referees. The pro game is not the same, and the college refs can’t handle it. Some of them are horrible in college as well, and then they slide their horribleness over to the WNBA each summer. The league is paying for such incompetence.

As a result, the pro players are the ultimate losers, with W fans coming in second.

Our simple solution — hire full time officials and assign them to work in the rechristened NBA G-League in the off season. The W players and their paying fans deserve better officiating.


Yes, she said it

“I like it — the best two teams playing for the championship,” states Phoenix Coach Sandy Brondello on the post-season format, now in its second year. “Do I like the knockout rounds? Personally not. I don’t know what’s the best way — best of three, then the finals best of five.”

At press time it appears more than likely that Brondello’s Mercury will be in that one-and-done first round slot next week.

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.


10 Comments on “Poor WNBA officiating still the bane of league’s existence”

  1. I agree with you 100% about the officials. I’ve been a season ticket holder for the Sun for 14 years and a UCONN fan since the early 90’s. I often lose my voice from booing the refs at Sun games.

  2. There were bad calls on both the Sparks and the Lynx in that finals game, but in defense of the officiating I have to say that this situation is normal for a young league unfortunately, the WNBA is really in its infancy compared to the NBA and to me whats worse is the salary cap situation star players skip entire seasons and dont play at all because the money is not worth it, how is a league gonna thrive without talent??

    1. The league has to be a viable revenue generator first. I would guess the vast majority of sport’s fans in this country could name a WNBA player and struggle to name a couple of teams nicknames.

  3. Officiating in the Wnba is poor. It’s time for action. Weed out those officials who we know see the game differently than the rest of us. Take action now!

  4. The bad reffing is why I’m not a W season ticket holder anymore. How can I support a league that doesn’t support it’s players OR it’s fans. Every year we complain, every year we see the same faces and the same mistakes.

  5. And – every year there is a ‘fan’ meeting with the WNBA president, who hears the complaints, and promises that “changes are coming!” We are told that every game has someone in the stands who is ‘watching’ and will turn in a report to the officiating department, and that every game that receives a complaint, from a coach or a ‘watcher’, will undergo video review. We are told that if officials are making mistakes, they will be taken to task. We are told that it ‘takes time’ to train officials for the WNBA, and we must be patient. How many jobs in the ‘real world’ take a year or two to train for? Either you know the rules, or you don’t. We are told it is ‘just a part-time job’ for many, yet we are told officials can be quite well compensated. We are told all these pacifying things, that in the meantime, are damaging the very sport we are trying to support and build up. And when people like Dave say they no longer buy season tickets, they are inherently supporting the demise of women’s basketball. The question is, how do we stand up and demand the officiating that the owners, coaches, players, and fans deserve? Who will care enough to listen to the ‘voters’?

  6. How many times has Fowles had her nose blooded & no foul called?

    I was at a game last year. Players were pushing & shoving setting moving screens & no fouls called. The game looked rougher than an NBA game.

  7. Well Gail, in defense of Dave, I don’t see anywhere in his post where he was declaring that he didn’t support women’s basketball—just WNBA basketball. .

  8. Even the commentators in the final game said 5 times (that’s five times!) “I don’t see a fowl here.” All bad calls against LA! I’m tired of bad refs! When they let them play, Sparks came back. When they started to make bad calls, Lynks would pull away.

    Way to blow it during the whole series. Refs should have won the title!

Comments are closed.