Study Sees Racial Bias In NBA Refs

Refs call more fouls against players with different skin color
By Jesse Andrews,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2007 10:39 PM CDT
Study Sees Racial Bias In NBA Refs
Los Angeles Lakers' Lamoar Odom complains to referee Joe Forte during the second quarter of a first round Western Conference NBA basketball playoff game Tuesday, April 24, 2007 at U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Paul Connors)   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – in the NBA, white referees call up to 4.5% more fouls against black players than against white players, according to a study by Justin Wolfers and Joseph Price, a Penn professor and a Cornell graduate student. And the opposite is also true: black refs call more fouls on white players, though the discrepancy isn't as large. 

The study joins a larger corpus of academic work on subconscious racism, although several prominent NBA players and coaches have denied that they've experienced discrimination on the court. Still, Wolfers says the data suggest that "...if you spray-painted one of your starters white, you'd win a few more games." (Read more NBA stories.)

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