A fundamental basketball officiating axiom is to “call the first foul.” So often we pass on the first illegal contact and then the situation escalates and we end up having a much more rough situation to handle. Had we called the first foul we would have saved ourselves a lot of heartaches.

Another problem with not calling the first foul is that often we end up calling the second or third instance of illegal contact on the other player who was almost forced into fouling by the first illegal contact that we passed on.

Such is the case I believe in the video clip below. It appears to me that the offensive player fouls at least twice in illegally backing down the defender before the defender feels like he has no choice but to grab the offensive player and then the foul was called on the defender.

I have been there and done that. On more than one occasion I tried to talk the offensive player out of fouling and before I knew it the defender had committed bigger and more obvious contact and I ended up calling the foul on the wrong player.

The situation works in reverse also. The defender is dislodging the offensive player and I let it go thinking it would end or I tried to talk him out of it, and before I knew it, the offensive post threw an elbow and I ended up calling an intentional foul on the offense. Had I just called the first foul I would not have had to deal with the wrath of the offensive coach who knew that I had screwed up.

ray lutz

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