White officials call more fouls on black players

From a study by Justin Wolfers and Joseph Price.

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 in Wednesday’s editions.

The NBA is violently objecting to this study, citing internal research on better, more robust data.

Looking at each study’s data set makes this story more interesting.

  • The Wolfers and Price study uses publicly available box score data, with calls by referee “teams”.
  • The NBA study uses internal data that lists calls made by individual referees

A request by Wolfers and Price to obtain the NBA’s data set was rejected.

The NBA needs to stop this hard and fast. How can they do so? Either hope it blows over or make their data set publicly available. Citing their private data set will not do enough to convince skeptics.

I wonder if, they did decide to release their data set, they would try to “massage” it to remove racial biases. If they did that, I wonder if it would be possible to identify if massaging occurred, similar to the Freakonomics story about the Chicago Public Schools teachers…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *