Are Jazz fans getting soft on NBA referees? Oh, no, say it ain’t so


Jazz fans’ reputation is on the brink here. On the brink of ruination.

Let’s discuss it before it gets any worse.

There are about a thousand instances, no, a whole lot more, when I’ve sat in Vivint Arena for Jazz games when fans have roared in disgust at bad calls by the referees, sometimes even good calls.

Aaaah, what’s the difference, really?

It’s splendid theater, and sometimes sordid, to observe crowd reactions to officials who are charged with an impossible task — calling NBA games. Their eyes are not lasers, it’s not within human capabilities to get it all right. That’s not an excuse because there are occasions when the calls they blow are within those capabilities, and yet they are blown still.

Jazz fans, indeed, have a reputation around the NBA for being … what’s the best way of putting it? … difficult for opposing teams and referees to deal with. They are … what’s the word, angry? … disturbed? … defensive? … raucous? … obnoxious? … paranoid? … passionate? … enthusiastic? Let’s generously go with those last two. They care deeply about their team and feel emotionally protective of and connected to it.

So those fans complain when they feel their team is being wronged and, by extension, they themselves are being wronged.

When it comes to expressing sour passion and negative enthusiasm online, though, Jazz fans apparently would stand a better chance of winning the lottery and gaining the top pick in the draft than the Jazz themselves do.

Maybe their reputation compared to other fan bases around the league has been overcooked. Maybe not.

Here’s why.

A study of online responses by fans of NBA teams was done by an outfit called BetOnline.ag. That Twitter study, which tracked more than 170,000 tweets, found that Jazz fans this season have complained less than most other teams’ fans.

Try not to be offended.

Tracked were phrases such as, “refs are horrible,” “awful officiating,” “terrible call,” “screwed by the refs,” “worst call,” “awful refs,” “terrible officiating,” “refs are a joke,” and a whole string of other angry and plaintive expressions.

Jazz fans ranked 25th out of 30 fan bases for percentage of fan tweets complaining about the refs.

That’s right. What an outrage!

The only fan bases that carped less than the Jazz’s, at least according to this, were the 76ers’, the Rockets’, the Pistons’, the Pelicans’ and the Hornets’.

The one that complained the most was the Warriors’. Next came the Bulls’, the Cavs’, the Heat’s, the Nets’, the Grizzlies’, the Celtics’, the Bucks’, the Lakers’, and the Trail Blazers’.

That’s the top 10.

There are some quality teams in that top 10, and some quality teams in the bottom five, so there’s no way of knowing with any exactness whether better teams with more potential for success generate more beefs aimed at the refs. Although, it might be logical to suppose so.

Either way, it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

Percentage of whining tweets obviously doesn’t include what happens inside the arena or inside TV dens. And bigger brains than mine would have to guess as to whether there’s any authentic correlation between tweets and actual complaints among all fans in all forms in all places.

But there’s enough wiggle room there to claim that, overall, maybe Jazz fans still are among the elite when it comes to anger, raucousness, obnoxiousness, and/or passion and enthusiasm put on the officials.

The heaping of energy inside the Viv, even as the Jazz have a mediocre win/loss record, gives the Jazz fan base hope for a stellar ranking in this regard, at least generally.

No self-respecting Jazz fan wants to walk around having to endure the indignity of an assignment that he or she is mostly in agreement with those scoundrels with the whistles, right?

That not only would run against a reputation that has taken the better part of 50 years to build, it would indicate that basketball fans here are getting civil and … don’t blame the messenger here … soft.

Ugh. Who would want that?

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