Although guys in striped shirts often seem as though they must be from some other planet because they call things on you that you don’t even come vaguely close to doing, referees are actually human beings subject to the same motivations and inclinations as players and coaches. Referees attempt to “call ’em as they see ’em.” They make the easy calls correctly because even a referee intent on cheating wouldn’t want to demonstrate that openly, and they have difficulty with the hard calls.
When the game is close near the end, they get nervous just like players, and they are likely to blow their whistles quickly at anything that doesn’t look quite right. When they are getting a lot of criticism, they are likely to get angry and want to get back at those who are criticizing them, and they may also question themselves. “Was he right or was I?” If they make a call that they realize is probably wrong, they will have a tendency to want to make up for it by watching the other team a bit more closely—not to cheat, but to make sure they don’t let anything slide on that side.
Above all, and despite the fact that coaches, players and particularly fans use referees as scapegoats and blame them for everything, 95% of the referees do their very best to be fair, maybe even more than that. Not very often does a referee come to a game with the purpose of cheating for a particular team. Most players finish their whole careers without ever having had a referee with that intention. Some may be a bit more swayed by fans and circumstances than others, but they don’t come to cheat. They would all like to leave knowing that no one hates them and that everyone feels the game was refereed fairly.
In view of all this, it is appalling that players go through game after game, season after season, complaining to referees. Don’t you understand that the more you complain, the greater is the referee’s tendency to notice the violations you commit? That should be clear. The more you play with matches, the better your chance of getting burned. The more you come to the referee’s attention, the better your chance of hearing the whistle blow.
If you are in the habit of questioning the referee’s calls, he is certainly going to want to show you that he knows what he is doing.
The result will be that every time you even begin to shuffle your feet or begin to make contact with someone, he is going to blow that whistle. On the other hand, if you are a gentleman, if you are in the habit of saying nothing and giving the impression that you are a hard worker, all business and a good solid basketball player, he will not be looking to call anything on you, and he may avoid calling something if he can. Because of human nature, intelligence should tell you that it will pay to act like a good sport, to give the referee a good impression of you and to run and get the ball for the referee if it rolls away and so on. Call them “brownie points” if you like, but why not?
Some day in a big game—when there is a play where it isn’t quite clear “Is it a foot shuffle or isn’t it? Is it a charge or a block?”—you will get the break if you have acted as an athlete should. And the call will go against you if you have been a complainer or a hot head. You can call that cheating if you like, but that is simply human nature. You would be wise to take advantage of it.
From Dick’s book Stuff