A perception has been pushed that Carroll College’s basketball teams have been getting the shaft in Frontier Conference play.
This could be the most laughable notion we have seen in sports in quite some time, and it is spreading because of what a certain politician would probably call “fake news.”
Homer media have pushed the narrative that the Saints “can’t get a call in this league.”
That quote was actually something tweeted by the radio station that covers the Saints. The tweet was taken down when the author was publically called out on it.
The sad thing is that the accusation might not even be the worst homer media job involving Carroll College this season.
The hometown paper recently published an entire story about the Carroll men’s basketball team losing at Montana Western based on the number of free throws shot by each team.
Western shot 32 free throws in the 88-77 theft of a victory. Carroll shot just 18 free throws.
By reading the story on the game, you would infer that the Saints lost solely because of biased officials at the Straugh Gymnasium. It had nothing to do with the fact that the first-place Bulldogs also have a pretty good team.
The story even went so far as to imply that Steve Keller, the coach of Western’s men, schmoozed the officials to swing all the calls in favor of the Bulldogs. Keller, the story said, won the “tactful discourse” battle to persuade the men in stripes.
There are many things wrong with such a suggestion. For starters, anybody who has ever seen Keller in action knows that he has received exactly zero calls because of “tactful discourse.”
Coach Keller doesn’t even know what “tactful discourse” means.
The coach finesses referees in the same manor the Soup Nazi wooed customers. Pretty much any discourse Keller has ever had with an official has worked against him.
Another big problem with the story is the style of play involved. Teams that win games at any level are generally successful at getting to the foul line. That goes quadruple for Keller-coached teams.
Also, the Bulldogs were playing zone defense, and that style of play generally leads to less fouls.
Finally, fouls are not created equal. Some teams foul more than others. If you’ve ever yelled at an official because the scoreboard has a 9-3 foul discrepancy between the two teams, you probably yell “three seconds” every second and a half the opponent is on offense, too.
You can probably say with 100 percent certainty that referees in the Frontier Conference are not collectively plotting against Carroll College. It’s just like the NFL isn’t plotting for the New England Patriots.
No, that referee laughing after the Patriots touchdown in the AFC Championship Game is not proof of a conspiracy for New England. If you think about it for a minute, you might realize that it is possible that, from time to time, somebody says something funny during an NFL game.
Laughter is an involuntary crime that we’ve all been guilty of from time to time.
Sure, officials can definitely impact the game. That is probably true in basketball as much or more than any other sports.
Of course, we all know the name of Tim Donaghy. He’s the NBA ref who was fixing games.
Donaghy is not refereeing Frontier Conference games. Even if he did, he’d have little incentive to fix games since the volume of gambling in the Frontier is next to nothing compared to the NBA. Or the Ice Capades, for that matter.
So, it is highly unlikely that the mafia has infiltrated league officials. Even if Tony Soprano is calling the shots, it would be hard to believe the Frontier officials have the criminal minds to pull off such a vast conspiracy to screw the Saints.
It would be easier to fake the moon landing.
The amount of felonies that would have to be committed and shrewdly covered up by the Frontier Conference would seem to rule out such a sinister plan.
Oh, but logic like that would never sway the conspiracy theorist.
Yes, homering by officials definitely happens from time to time. Most of that comes in high school games, where officials are generally local men and women.
They’re probably not blatantly cheating, but they are human, and a bias toward players they know certainly has been known to come out, but not as much as you probably think.
It can work in the reverse, too.
In the Frontier, hometown officials are generally not used, though sometimes a Dillon official calls games in Dillon and Helena officials referee in Helena.
An official who refereed in Billings on Thursday might call a game in Lewiston, Idaho, on Saturday. That long travel certainly hurts the argument that the Saints “can’t get a call in this league.”
It’s one thing for a radio play-by-play man to be somewhat of a homer during a game. Of course he wants to see the team he covers win games. His audience does, too.
It certainly is no problem if he gets a more excited when his team makes a big play.
When he starts claiming the team is literally getting cheated by the league every time a game doesn’t go his way, though, it is just irresponsible.
It’s also just poor journalism to write such a story because it undermines the integrity of the league and the sport. It is also just plain wrong.
Somewhere, a guy read that game report of Western’s win over Carroll and said to his wife, “Gee, honey, the Frontier Conference is cheating for the Bulldogs.”
It is insulting to all the teams in the league. It’s insulting to the officials. It’s insulting to the fans.
More than anything, it is insulting to the Saints.
The men and women on the Carroll College basketball teams work very hard. They are well-coached, and very talented. Both teams have the potential to make a deep run in the NAIA National tournament.
It wouldn’t be shocking at all if one team brings home the national championship.
Yet, across the league right now, the Saints are getting a collective eye roll, and that’s too bad.
There are plenty of reasons for fans of other teams to dislike the Saints. The No. 1 reason is that they are always good at every sport.
Nobody hates the Browns, but everybody hates the Patriots. It’s not because they actually cheat. It’s because they win all the time.
It really is that simple.
The Carroll players and coaches don’t deserved to be ridiculed for blaming the officials because they are not the ones levying the accusations.
The finger pointing and laughter should instead be directed at the homer media and the “fake news” they are pushing.
— Bill Foley, who believes we faked the moon landing, writes a column that appears Tuesdays on ButteSports.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/Foles74