March 1, 2011

Conspiracy against the Big Man or in this case the Big Woman

Hello everyone. For my blog this year I would like to discuss a serious issue that plagues women’s basketball. It is the issue of fouls.

In the game every team member gets 5 fouls. These are usually personal fouls (rather than technical or flagrant fouls). According to Wikipedia a personal foul is “a player’s contact foul with an opponent, whether the ball is live or dead. A player shall not hold, block, push, charge, trip or impede the progress of an opponent by extending his/her hand, arm, elbow, shoulder, hip, leg, knee or foot, nor by bending his/her body into an 'abnormal' position (outside his cylinder), nor shall he/she indulge in any rough or violent play.”

No ... enough with the information about what are fouls. My concern is who the fouls are being called on. I have developed a conspiracy theory over the years that referees have formed together to target the team's “bigs” or posts and call fouls on them. The “bigs” would usually be the team’s center. Ever since I began playing the beautiful sport of basketball, I have observed how refs usually are quick to call a foul on a “big” rather than a guard. I will admit that I am usually at the receiving end of those calls. And while some of those may be actual fouls, I think that it is all part of this conspiracy theory.

To support this theory I went on some of the other Pac 10 teams websites to see which players receive the most personal fouls. On our team Chiney leads the way with 66, I follow with 57, and Nneka comes next with 46 fouls. Note that we are all “bigs.” On UCLA Dixon, their “big”, leads the team with 72 fouls. On USC, LaPlante leads the team with 77 fouls. On Oregon State Greer has 86 and on Oregon Canepa has 68. I didn’t have time to get the stats on the rest of the teams in the Pac 10, but if I were to, I would guess that their bigs would be the ones leading their team in fouls. These stats offer interesting findings in support of my conspiracy theory that refs target “bigs” with fouls.

I would like to note that this blog is in no way meant to rag our Pac 10 refs — it is merely something that I have observed in my 10 or so years of playing basketball. And this conspiracy theory does not only pertain to women’s college basketball. It is a conspiracy at all levels in both men’s and women’s basketball.

Thank you for reading and for your support! Have a great day!
Sarah Boothe


  1. I really appreciated this point-of-view and your supporting statistics. You bigs are usually in the thick of the action and it's you are probably closer to the ref's focus during play. But I now believe bias exists also.

    You have got the sweetest close-in moves and shots. They're a joy to watch.

  2. Yep. I've always called those "big girl fouls". So many of them seem to come from some mysterious thing that only refs can see. My eyes don't seem to work that way.
    I'm so glad we've got the post-season and then two more years to watch you play. Good luck in the next game, and the next, and the next...