So now NBA referees aren’t merely humorless megalomaniacs, they’re allegedly racists.

Terrific. Another artificial sports controversy to keep those split-screen cable talk show hosts in business for a week.

Hopefully you missed the report that a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell University graduate student apparently got together and watched every NBA game since Bill Sharman was a baby.

Call it profiling, but I’m guessing from their pedigree that the pair would have been better off penning a treatise on why the designated hitter will hasten the collapse of Western civilization. Instead, they have documented every foul in the Association and “discovered” that white refs blow the whistle at a higher clip against black players than they do against white players.

Also, in what I suppose is their idea of balance, the intelligentsia reported that black officials reprimand the misdeeds of white players more often than they cry foul against blacks, only the gap is less damning.

Higher education has surely changed. During my frequent, feigned flirtations with post-secondary mind control, most of my assignments required 10-hour readings of British literature. And that was within the state university system, even. Never knew Ivy Leaguers had so much time on their hands.

No lesser authorities on crummy officiating than Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and several counterparts of like skin tone laughed off the thesis as hogwash. And I do mean laughed. James said the study and its conclusions are “stupid.” Bryant believes black officials hold him to a higher standard than whites.

Can we stop this, already? There is enough real racism in the world (flowing in both directions, I might add). We hardly need the self-flagellating elite digging for obscure signs of it under every rock.

This reminds me of an annual rite of winter, when I’m seated among the fans at a high school game in Auburn, Buckfield, Winthrop or Salem. Invariably, some fan who couldn’t explain the three-second rule in a language all of us can understand glances at the scoreboard and sees that the foul disparity between the home team and visitors is six to one. “There are two teams out there, ref,” he squawks.

Dumb. The commission of fouls is not a zero-sum game, and the discussion of race is not restricted to black and white. This is especially true in pro basketball. It would be easier to list the major nations of the world that don’t boast a player currently in the NBA than to rattle off the countries that do.

More than any other big-league enterprise in America, the NBA enjoys a level of diversity that actually looks like our country. It is a reputation David Stern and cronies should wear with pride.

It would seem that a tenured educator and a well-informed student could exercise their status and influence in a way that might make the world a better place, rather than dredge up more division. That kind of work never gets attention, though, does it?


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