Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Value of Bad Research

Is mostly comedic. Take this for example:

An academic study of NBA officiating found that white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players, The New York Times reported on its Web site Tuesday night.

The study by a University of Pennsylvania assistant professor and Cornell graduate student also found that black officials called fouls more frequently against white players than black, but noted that that tendency was not as pronounced.

It's the methodology though that really kills: The study, conducted over a 13-season span through 2004, found that the racial makeup of a three-man officiating crew affected calls by up to 4 1/2 percent.

The NBA strongly criticized the study, which was based on information from publicly available box scores, which show only the referees' names and contain no information about which official made a call.

Box scores. That was it. Box scores...

At the risk of being indelicate (putting it mildly), did the good academics stop to ponder the fact that NBA rosters are composed, overwhelmingly, of black players. One would think refs would tend to call more fouls on black players when in most games at any given time 8 of the 10 players on the floor are in fact black.

Kevin Hinch skewers this nonsense beautifully in a column here. On behalf of white-stiffs everywhere, I give you the key and closing quote:

One might question the motives of people who would set out in search of racism in a business where the vast majority of the highest-paid employees and 38 percent of the refs are black. I don't. I question their half-assed methodology, which doesn't even yield half-truths.
It says nothing. It proves nothing. It is nothing. Except, of course, a distraction from the real issue of race in America.

It is also incredibly lame.

And somewhere Joel Przybilla is pissed.

Like so many big white stiffs in the NBA, the 7-foot-1 space-eater spends much of his professional life in foul trouble. Now he's forced to ponder how much worse it would be if the white refs didn't have his back.

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