High school basketball season is here and from the sidelines I am hearing fans discussing why there are not three officials calling the games.  Ok, the fans are grumbling more than discussing.  Afterall, six eyes are better than four, right?  Well, here are three obvious reasons why three officials would be better than two.

  1.  Improved ball coverage.  Three officials allow for better angles and views, which in turn results in better on and off ball coverage.
  2. Better transition coverage.  During transitions, especially fast break situations, officials can be caught off guard and this results in missed calls.  Many times I have witnessed an offensive player step out of bounds or a defensive player reach and foul the player with the ball and officials have missed these calls due to being out of position.
  3. Fewer fouls.  I contacted a few states who utilize three man crews and all stated that with three person crews there are fewer fouls called.

Now, there are other advantages but these three are major ones that I, and many fans, have noticed.

So, if a three person crew would make for a better game, why are there not more three person crews?  Well, one major factor is the additional cost that school administrators would have to add to their game management/officiating budgets.  Schools have tight budgets and this additional cost could hurt other programs or even the hiring of staff.

Another problem is the lack of officials.  Many states I spoke with have a tough enough time fielding two person crews let alone three person crews.  And, it appears that every year that number drops.   Arizona, for example, is down 28% since 2008.

Some states utilize the three person crews only during playoffs.  However, some coaches are against this.  They want three person crews utilized all season and not just for playoffs.  If that’s not possible, they want to stick with two person crews.

My thoughts are that until a way to recruit and keep more officials is figured out, two person crews should be the norm and I am a strong believer that officials should have the training needed to make them better at their jobs.  Camps, meetings, mentors, film to review, etc. should be within the reach of all officials.

~Craig Lash