FanDuel - WFBC

September 21, 2009

NBA Referee Lock-out: Julie Davis, wife of NBA ref Mark Davis, wrote a letter to the National Basketball Referees Association executive board to give them the perspective of a referee's family.

posted by lilnemo to culture at 03:02 PM - 40 comments

What a bunch of self centered bullshit. Millions of people across the world are facing the issue of keeping on top of bills while the entire planet is in a recession. And bills not only don't understand "lockout", they don't understand "unemployment" either.

I love that, about missing kids sport games, not being there etc... So the NBA are responsible for rewarding these people for making poor career decisions then are they? My Dad wasn't there for me from about the age of 3 to about 14. He was a warrant officer and entire weeks would go by where I didn't see him as he'd be home after I went to bed and out to work again before I got up. And he earned a hell of a lot less than an NBA referee, and did considerably more work, and was in considerably more danger. (Including being held hostage at gunpoint in the early 80's.)

As a parent myself now, I have turned down very lucrative jobs because it would have taken me away from my kids for a prolonged period. It's a choice. I made mine. These referees and their families made theirs.

That may be the most pathetic thing I've ever read. "Wah wah, we deserve more because we gave up this, that and the other." Nobody put a gun to their heads and forced them to be referees. They CHOOSE to do it and be away from their families.

Yes, the NBA are bastards. This is hardly news. But whiny, petulant "we're owed" bullshit like this is pathetic and speaks to the level of maturity of the parties involved.

I find it especially hard to stomach when I learned that the refs make around $100k a year.

Yes, boo hoo, poor you, having to live on 4 times what I live on with 3 kids. I'd rather live on what I live on and watch my kids grow up thanks.

Cry me a river you whiny, spoiled brat. Take a look at what the truly deserving people of society earn, like fire fighters, emt's etc... Then SHUT THE FUCK UP!

Jesus people like this make me fucking angry. Your husband, who chooses to be away from his family, is paid to run around in a black and white shirt for two hours and make supposedly accurate calls as to the legality of what's going on as two teams of men try to throw a ball into a small hoop.

Fuck you.

Honestly, reading that has made me so angry I want to hurt someone.

posted by Drood at 03:23 PM on September 21

I've read the average salary of an NBA ref is higher than that -- around $200,000.

Just because you made the choices you did doesn't make the life of an NBA referee easy, or one in which all you have to do is run around for two hours. You cheapen your argument by acting as if a job like that is not hard.

While that's nice money, the job puts the refs on the road all the time and they serve a crucial role in a multimillion dollar sport. How does wanting to be better compensated make them worthy of your anger and contempt?

posted by rcade at 03:32 PM on September 21

While I agree that I don't want to hear refs whining at all, I don't think she's simply saying "refs travel a lot, so they deserve more money." She's saying "refs travel a lot, so they deserve more money than office employees and administrative staff who aren't always on the road". And I'm not sure I really disagree with that, personally.

"The NBA has repeatedly stated that their goal this year is to bring the referees compensation and benefits more in line with the rest of the NBA office employees and its administrative staff. But referees are not office and administrative staff."

posted by inigo2 at 03:36 PM on September 21

I'd be curious to know how many tons of dollars the NBA is raking in relative to other years such that they feel they need to curb referee salaries.

posted by kokaku at 03:40 PM on September 21

How hard can the life of a ref be? Honestly, there are door to door salesman that are gone longer than refs are and making a lot less. Which would you rather be? There are police, fire fighters and emt's in a much more dangerous position making a lot less. Where would you rather be at 9:00 on a Friday night, reffing a game or on the streets?

200K a year and they want more? They don't have any athletic skills, no real talent to speak of and are already making 200K a year. If you want someone to make more money, call your congressman and tell him the military deserves a raise. They are gone for months or years at a time, on very little pay defending our freedoms. A NBA ref does very little for 200K a year and if the wife wants to whine about it, she should go buy her some fancy cheese and file divorce paperwork. I totally agree with Drood, while they may work for a few more than 2 hours a game, overall they bring nothing to the table other than being able to see, being able to speak the lingo of the game, knowledge of the game that anyone can get reading the rule book and a bit of luck to have gotten into such a cushy job.

I consider myself fortunate to be where I'm at right now, not making anywhere near even 100K a year, working long hours and getting called in the middle of the night most nights when a switch or router has problems. But I chose it and let my family know that I love what I do and will be around when possible and my family understands that it's better I love what I do and come home smiling rather than hate it and go out drinking after work.

If the ref's wife hates the life so much, then he should try getting a real job for a while and see what she thinks about living on 1/5 of what they're living on now.....

posted by stalnakerz at 03:45 PM on September 21

They don't have any athletic skills, no real talent to speak of and are already making 200K a year. If you want someone to make more money, call your congressman and tell him the military deserves a raise.

Sorry, this is a sports site. You clearly meant to go elsewhere.

posted by yerfatma at 03:52 PM on September 21

How hard can the life of a ref be? Honestly, there are door to door salesman that are gone longer than refs are and making a lot less. Which would you rather be?

Man it gets old to see envy driving discussions like this. Your income working on routers makes you filthy rich by the standards of most of the world. Does that mean you don't deserve a raise and you should go out and get a "real job" instead of seeking one?

Jobs pay what the market will bear. Anyone who doesn't test this principle -- because he or she should be grateful for what he has -- is a sucker. If the NBA refs can get more money and better overall compensation, more power to 'em.

posted by rcade at 04:02 PM on September 21

Seems to me like the NBA would be better off hiring bachelor refs and firing them as soon as they get hitched. I mean, what a horrible life it would be to be married to, or the child of, an NBA ref; it's a wonder the refs can even officiate fairly under such duress.

Think of the families, David Stern!

posted by Hugh Janus at 04:16 PM on September 21

Your income working on routers makes you filthy rich by the standards of most of the world. Does that mean you don't deserve a raise and you should go out and get a "real job" instead of seeking one?

This. Except replace "don't deserve a raise" with "deserve a pay cut and pension reduction".

posted by DrJohnEvans at 04:43 PM on September 21

rcade, did someone put a gun to the heads of these referees to force them to take jobs with the NBA? Do they lack the basic skills to take local jobs which might pay less -- but afford more family time?

Yes, they are away from home more than league staff and administration. Does that necessarily make them candidates for higher pay? Is there some chart I haven't seen proving that being a referee is more stressful than being, say, David Stern's secretary?

Yes, they have the right to get whatever they can for compensation. However, to say they have to travel and miss their families is incorrect. They do it willingly every time they board a plane and -- more importantly -- cash a paycheque. The inverse of this free-market love is also true -- if the NBA can find a way to pay less to the same people, or to replace them with others who'll do the job for a smaller bite, good on them.

The complaints about what they do or don't do are irrelevant. The NBA hired them, set the parameters of the job and then paid them. The referees can't be blamed for that.

But to say someone else has made their career choice and shouldn't have an opinion about this is disingenuous. I have turned down jobs that involved a great deal of travel for the exact complaints Julie Davis has, and I have no issues with someone else doing that work and making more money for it -- until they start complaining about the very reasons I wouldn't work such a gig.

Anyway, this will all be settled quickly when the season starts, won't it? Either:

A) The NBA's replacement referees (hopefully all single, childless men) will be either as good or nearly as good as the replaced work force, but cheaper. They will be retained and the old refs will be free to find new employment that gives them more time at home. or B) The NBA's replacement referees (hopefully all single, childless men) will be not be either as good or nearly as good as the replaced work force, which will force the league to capitulate and hire the old referees back at their asking price.

Option B, of course, does not mean those officials will be home more nights, hug their children or make love to their wives more often. It just means they'll be paid well not to do those things -- which is exactly the standard right now.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:43 PM on September 21

fraze, that's a lot of words about a straw man as I see it. The NBA is a billion dollar business, the refs have a skill (whether I like to admit it or not) and have invested time and lost opportunities (like being with their families) in order to be NBA refs. Why can't they ask for more money? Player salaries never go down. David Stern isn't taking a paycut. Why do the refs need to give up a few million bucks and some benefits? It feels like the NBA thought they could make a quick buck by relying on fan dissatisfaction with the refs to squeeze them for a few dollars.

posted by yerfatma at 04:46 PM on September 21

But to say someone else has made their career choice and shouldn't have an opinion about this is disingenuous.

Who said you shouldn't have an opinion? It's the anger and contempt I was talking about. There's nothing in Julie Davis' letter that should make a fan "so angry I want to hurt someone" or another to declare that refs have "no real talent to speak of." It's like we're reflexively contemptuous in this country when people try to negotiate fair treatment from their employers.

posted by rcade at 04:59 PM on September 21

Because it's about supply and demand, yerfatma.

The referees don't need to give up a few million bucks and some benefits. But if the NBA believes it can find people just as qualified to officiate its games and pay them less, why wouldn't it? Both sides of the argument ring just as true to me.

And Mrs. Davis's letter implies her husband has no choice in the matter. It's as if the referees are indentured servants, with no ability to decide for themselves whether the toll of the travel is worth the pay. Also, by bringing up these issues in reference to the lockout, it seems pretty clear there's an equation in her head:

f + h < m

Where f = absence of father, f = absence of husband and f = money.

If one of the referees or the wives filed this letter when times were good, our question would be "Well, why did you take this job?" wouldn't it? So why isn't it fair to ask that question now?

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:07 PM on September 21

if the NBA believes it can find people just as qualified to officiate its games and pay them less, why wouldn't it?

Why wouldn't they have done it years ago? What's so special about this season? It seems more likely to be convenient than it is the NBA is about to go under if they don't cut $2 million from the bottom line. Has anyone seen an article that says this is driven by a need to cut costs due to financial troubles in the league?

posted by yerfatma at 05:27 PM on September 21

"The NBA has repeatedly stated that their goal this year is to bring the referees compensation and benefits more in line with the rest of the NBA office employees and its administrative staff. But referees are not office and administrative staff."

Well, for one things, administrative staff don't stand in front of a bunch of drunken abusive arseholes while trying to manage a bunch of agressive swelled egos every week, all the while having a bunch of jockstrap-sniffers on TV and radio whip up frenzied campaigns against any decision they don't like.

posted by rodgerd at 05:38 PM on September 21

Sorry, rcade, you're right -- I should have said "this opinion," not "an opinion."

It's like we're reflexively contemptuous in this country when people try to negotiate fair treatment from their employers.

People will side with the worker over the employer almost every time, and I have no issue with that. But it also pays, I think, to look at situations where the workers have done nothing to help themselves, i.e. the auto industry.

Average pay there seems to be around $30-35 per hour, so even at the low end of the scale that's $62,500 per year. Now add in benefits, pensions and more and you're getting up the figures we kept seeing during the bailout discussion -- $70-75 per hour.

I don't begrudge anyone making whatever money they can. It's a free market, right? However, I fail to see how even just $30-35 an hour would be "unfair treatment" from an employer -- yet the UAW screamed bloody murder every time a car manufacturer said wages and benefits were getting out of whack with the job being done by the average employee.

Before this goes any further, I am not pinning the failure of the American automotive industry on the people building the cars. There's plenty of blame to go around. Management, the government, union bosses -- and the ownership took all the profits it could with little to no regard to making sure the business model was still viable. But the average Joe had it very, very good, and it still never seemed to be enough -- and none of this factors in how easily replaceable the skills of assembly-line workers are.

All of which leads me back to NBA refs. Yes, they have skills, and their jobs are not easy -- but are they irreplaceable? I hardly think so. There are thousands of very capable college and high school officials who could be elevated, trained and most likely being doing the same level of job the current referees are. I think the refs are in a bad spot here, and they'll quickly give in.

Conspiracy theory: the current lockout is a way for the NBA to root out other gambling-related problems in the officiating ranks without singling people out or having it aired out in public. Put on your tinfoil hats and discuss.

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:49 PM on September 21

I don't know why the timing is now, yerfatma, but does the league have to be "going under" to save the money? I know $2M seems like chump change in comparison to the money the NBA brings in, but it's still $2M.

By the way, this is why Sportsfilter is the best place to discuss sports on the web. Smart people, reasoned arguments ... and all the Telemanjaro coverage you can eat!

posted by wfrazerjr at 05:50 PM on September 21

This situation also makes me wonder whether the new refs will be more likely or less likely to make intentional miscalls to alter the point spread when they officiate games they wager money on.

posted by Hugh Janus at 06:19 PM on September 21

Interesting and spirited discussion. I have a few thoughts to throw out.

Comparing the officiating of a professional sport with any other job, is a false equivalence at best. While there may be tenuous similarities to other professions in regards to travel or pay scale, they just don't add up.

Besides, we all know that refs are most like middle management. They have the least say in the direction of the company, and take the most shit for their mistakes. Seriously, who takes as much abuse, from as large a group of people, as referees? Aside from CEOs and heads of state, who catches as much crap as refs? And over what? A game.

I mean, look at this thread. We have some users here who are ready to assault someone over a letter to a board. Who are belittling a woman for supporting her husband? SERIOUSLY?

Here's a little more info for everyone to chew on. And here's the money quote (literally):

The contract between the NBA and its officials expired Sept. 1 and the sides have been trying to reach a new two-year deal. McMorris said they largely agree on salaries, but the union has balked at the league's attempt to change retirement benefits.

Besides the severance and pension disagreements, the officials are resisting a league development plan for young officials.

So they're not negotiating for a raise, they're trying to keep their pension. Those assholes!

Yeah, refs screw up. Everybody does. They're people like you and me. And while I may disagree with officiating on the field, I see nothing wrong with referees trying to secure their retirement. Besides does no one else remember what NBA games were like the last time this happened?

posted by lilnemo at 06:41 PM on September 21

This situation also makes me wonder whether the new refs will be more likely or less likely to make intentional miscalls to alter the point spread when they officiate games they wager money on.

Right, because no one in the history of the gainfully employed has ever commited a crime that effected their employer.

Sportsfilter why are you making me defend the refs?

WHY?!

posted by lilnemo at 06:44 PM on September 21

Here's a little more info for everyone to chew on. And here's the money quote (literally):

The contract between the NBA and its officials expired Sept. 1 and the sides have been trying to reach a new two-year deal. McMorris said they largely agree on salaries, but the union has balked at the league's attempt to change retirement benefits. Besides the severance and pension disagreements, the officials are resisting a league development plan for young officials.

So they're not negotiating for a raise, they're trying to keep their pension. Those assholes!

They're also resisting a development plan for young officials... Nothing like the union trash that can't be fired (or get SEVERANCE when they are fired) not allowing new personnel to come in and try to actually do the work RIGHT..... Typical union speak for we want 100% retirement and X years severance for the losers in the group. And if you do your job well, you better believe a union boss will come tell you to slow down, you're making everyone look bad and we can't justify (pick one of the following: raises, overtime, extra vacation, bigger percentage of salary in pension) if you're doing a better job than everyone else... Unions have FAR outlived their use in American society. Let each negotiate based on his/her own merits and let the worthless panhandle with the rest of them.

posted by stalnakerz at 07:13 PM on September 21

They're also resisting a development plan for young officials...

And why? For the money they're not asking for? Perhaps its the structure of the development plan, or maybe its because the oversight for current in-season officiating is still lacking. There are many reasons to do this aside from saving ones ass. Did you throw this big a fit when the NBA instituted the rookie scale alongside the veterans' minimum? You know so those tried and true rookies like Bryant Reeves would be forced to take low pay while worthless veterans like Jimmy Jackson could take home that awesome veteran money?

And if you do your job well, you better believe a union boss will come tell you to slow down, you're making everyone look bad and we can't justify (pick one of the following: raises, overtime, extra vacation, bigger percentage of salary in pension) if you're doing a better job than everyone else...

Okay. This is where it gets a little personal. I will make a small admission. I am affiliated with a union. And I have never. I repeat, NEVER been told, much less joked about such a thing. To paint union members of any affiliation, with such a vile broad brush without qualification is crass (to put it kindly).

Unions have FAR outlived their use in American society.

Maybe. I'm not qualified to say. I'm not a rah-rah, union guy. I had to join a union in order to obtain my current job. A job without which I would be still be working at minimum wage, without health insurance, much less "health benefits" and at "part-time hours" (which you can read as just below the legal threshold for full-time status and the benefits that ensures). Does that mean I'm stupid? Does that mean I'm lazy? Maybe. But maybe the fact that companies like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Disney, etc can still get away with screwing with timesheets and forcing employees to work overtime to keep their jobs means that Unions aren't just some antiquated notion from the 19th century. That if the government falls asleep at the wheel and doesn't regulate industry, that workers, regular joes like you and me will get fucked sideways and all at the whims of the "free market". We can panhandle together while big business pockets that extra "rainy day" cash.

Fuck off.

posted by lilnemo at 08:02 PM on September 21

You are right. I do side with the worker.

The NBA makes a shitload of money. Let everyone get paid handsomely.

And having worked for some totally unscrupulous shitbags in my time, unions have not outlived there usefulness. Maybe they need to be better run, but organized workers? There's a need as long as greed can run unchecked.

posted by josher71 at 09:04 PM on September 21

Sigh. "Their".

posted by josher71 at 09:47 PM on September 21

Lighten up, lilnemo. If you're taking my throwaway jab about corrupt NBA refs seriously, and then setting aside an entire paragraph to tell someone else to fuck off, you're probably taking yourself a little too seriously as well.

Actually, now that I've gone back for a second look, you are indeed responding to abject stupidity, in both cases. Carry on.

posted by Hugh Janus at 10:54 PM on September 21

Maybe. I'm not qualified to say. I'm not a rah-rah, union guy. I had to join a union in order to obtain my current job. A job without which I would be still be working at minimum wage, without health insurance, much less "health benefits" and at "part-time hours" (which you can read as just below the legal threshold for full-time status and the benefits that ensures). Does that mean I'm stupid? Does that mean I'm lazy? Maybe. But maybe the fact that companies like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Disney, etc can still get away with screwing with timesheets and forcing employees to work overtime to keep their jobs means that Unions aren't just some antiquated notion from the 19th century. That if the government falls asleep at the wheel and doesn't regulate industry, that workers, regular joes like you and me will get fucked sideways and all at the whims of the "free market". We can panhandle together while big business pockets that extra "rainy day" cash.

Fuck off.

Sorry, this is a sports site. You clearly meant to go elsewhere.

posted by tselson at 12:29 AM on September 22

Sorry, this is a sports site. You clearly meant to go elsewhere.

Perhaps you should also address to stalnakerz and others - or are you only offended by certain views on that particular debate?

posted by rodgerd at 12:41 AM on September 22

Agreed. I believe lilnemo is well aware that this is a sports site.

With that in mind, if a point is raised during discussion that I don't agree with, whether it is about sports or not, I'm going to respond to it. Whether those posts need to remain in the thread or be deleted is up to rcade and gary.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 01:07 AM on September 22

Sorry, this is a sports site. You clearly meant to go elsewhere.

Yes, a well-thought out, well-reasoned response to blind knee-jerk posturing has no place here anymore 'nemo.

posted by yerfatma at 08:56 AM on September 22

So, how does any of this crap help the Celtics win the NBA Championship this season?

posted by The_Black_Hand at 09:58 AM on September 22

Sorry, this is a sports site. You clearly meant to go elsewhere.

Admittedly its been awhile since I posted on SpoFi. But, no. I think it belongs here. But I'll take it under advisement. Christ, what happened to this place? You got people crying about misogyny in one thread and then talking about hurting someone over a LETTER in another.

I'll apologize to Hugh Janus. Your jab was clearly not intended to be taken seriously, but can you blame my Sarcastometer 5000 breaking down considering the comments that came before it?

Besides how often does a guy get to apologize to a Hugh Janus?

posted by lilnemo at 12:40 PM on September 22

You're on the wrong site for an answer to that question.

posted by yerfatma at 01:01 PM on September 22

You mean this isn't ColonoscopyFilter?

posted by lilnemo at 01:20 PM on September 22

The NBA's replacement list is out, and it apparently includes a former official the refs backed when he was publicly reprimanded by the league a few years back.

So they have that to be pissed about also now, I guess.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:40 PM on September 22

They don't have any athletic skills, no real talent to speak of and are already making 200K a year. If you want someone to make more money, call your congressman and tell him the military deserves a raise.

Sorry, this is a sports site. You clearly meant to go elsewhere.

posted by yerfatma at 03:52 PM on September 21

Perhaps you should also address to stalnakerz and others - or are you only offended by certain views on that particular debate?

posted by rodgerd at 12:41 AM on September 22

stalnakerz was already addressed with the same words. That was my point. Just trying to even things out/be a butthole. Why can the same words be used without chastizization(it's a new word, I like it) and I get put down by the same guy who used them against someone else?

Sorry, this is a sports site. You clearly meant to go elsewhere.

Yes, a well-thought out, well-reasoned response to blind knee-jerk posturing has no place here anymore 'nemo.

posted by yerfatma at 08:56 AM on September 22

I don't know what's legitimate around here or why. I'm probably missing something.

But I'll take it under advisement. Christ, what happened to this place? You got people crying about misogyny in one thread and then talking about hurting someone over a LETTER in another.

nemo, I wasn't really trying to advise you. I know you've been here for a long time and I'm glad to have you commenting again.

Fatty, I'm scared to say anything else. I fear the wit that is about to be used to make me feel small. But you did disagree with your own words. I think.

posted by tselson at 11:03 PM on September 22

I'm not sure I follow, but I'm always happy to argue both sides; my complaint was that lilnemo's well-thought out (to me anyway) response got flagged simply for the last line while we let anyone who wants to blow off steam about overpaid [athletic group] sound off without response. I'm at a loss to why this site is so heavily populated by people who reset the people who make sports possible.

posted by yerfatma at 08:36 AM on September 23

I RESET NOTING!

posted by Hugh Janus at 09:38 AM on September 23

I'm at a loss to why this site is so heavily populated by people who reset the people who make sports possible.

I can appreciate that.

You and everyone else (including me) can probably appreciate that I just pasted my anti- union diatribe to my notebook and didn't post it here.

In the future, I'll try to understand that when I start making up words that challenge even the great Jessica Simpson's word making upability, I should just go to bed.

I do like the word upability, though. I think I reset noting, as well.

posted by tselson at 10:11 PM on September 23

I'm at a loss to why this site is so heavily populated by people who reset the people who make sports possible.

Beats the hell out of me. Seems to be more resentment in general since the economy went to hell. I just thank God that before our banking system failed, Jerry Jones got the money he needed for Telemanjaro.

posted by rcade at 12:31 AM on September 24

can probably appreciate that I just pasted my anti- union diatribe to my notebook

Yeah. I need to get back to deleting more comments that I post.

posted by yerfatma at 09:41 AM on September 25

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