BIASED REFEREES?: RECONCILING RESULTS WITH THE NBA'S ANALYSIS

Authors

  • JOSEPH PRICE,

    1. Price: Department of Economics, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602. Phone (801) 422-5296, Fax (801) 422-0194, E-mail joe_price@byu.edu
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  • JUSTIN WOLFERS

    1. Wolfers: The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Phone (215) 898-3013, Fax (215) 898-7635, E-mail jwolfers@wharton.upenn.edu
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    • We are grateful to the research assistance of Matt Gibb and Tim Larsen. This paper has benefited from the comments of seminar participants at Chicago Law School, Dartmouth, Delaware, Missouri, Northwestern Law School, UCLA, Wharton, the Society of Labor Economists, the American Law and Economics Association, and the Western Economic Association annual meetings.


Abstract

In a recent study, we used National Basketball Association (NBA) box-score data over a 13-year period including nearly 600,000 foul calls to show that NBA referees call relatively more fouls on players of another race. The NBA commissioned its own study using internal data with information on calls made by individual referees and claimed the results show there is no bias among the referees in the NBA. This paper is an attempt to reconcile these competing claims. (JEL J15, J71)

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