DISCLAIMER: If you have not yet engaged in, or encouraged others to engage in, harassing John Higgins, then this message is not directed at you.
I have a message for all Kentucky fans who are engaging in harassing John Higgins, the maligned referee who was part of the three-man crew officiating Sunday’s game between Kentucky and North Carolina.
It’s a very simple message.
Are you ready?
Ok, here we go.
STOP HARASSING JOHN HIGGINS, HIS BUSINESS, HIS EMPLOYEES, AND HIS FAMILY.
For anybody unfamiliar with what this is referring to, a small minority of UK fans have spent the last twenty-four hours posting nasty, profanity-laced "reviews" towards his business, calling his employees, and even, in some cases sending messages to his family members. Some people have actually called him directly, and have posted his number for others to do the same. There have been so many threats that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has now gotten involved, answering calls at the business.
If you have not seen the posts and are curious, there are many places you can go find them. Unlike some in the UK community, I will not proceed to tell you not to do it, while then promoting the posts for you to read. I refuse to give the ignorance and cowardice any extra attention.
If you have seen others harassing John Higgins, and have not joined in, then kudos to you, sir or ma’am, for having some class. I hope that you told them to knock it off as well, but I totally understand if you simply walked away. The good news is, you did not engage.
For those of you who HAVE called John Higgins’ roofing business, posted a "review" on the Facebook page of his business, or have harassed his employees and family, you should be ashamed of yourselves. You need to take a time-out. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
But Jason, he missed calls and made phantom calls against us on Sunday!
I don’t care.
But Jason, UK has gone 2-4 in games he has refereed under Coach Cal!
I. Don’t. Care.
Seriously. I don’t care if he walked over to Wildcat, pulled his head off, pointed to kids in the crowd, and shouted, "Santa Claus isn’t real, either!" There is no excuse for how you are acting right now.
You’re not funny. As much as you might think you are, those laughs you hear around the country are people laughing AT you, not WITH you. The rest of Big Blue Nation doesn’t find you funny, either. We’re telling our friends and family, "I am embarrassed; please don’t lump me in with them." We are telling national writers, "Most UK fans are not like that." We are wishing you would stop, and for good reason.
If Louisville fans were doing what you are doing right now, you know exactly what you would say. You would call them stupid. You would call them cowardly. I’m sure you would make some sort of lame hooker joke. You would say how pathetic they are, why they should stop blaming the referees, and just accept the loss. You would mock them for being the national laughing-stock that they would likely become.
Well, guess what? They aren’t doing those things, YOU are. In doing so, you have made OUR fan-base a national laughing-stock. The story has been picked up by Deadspin, USA Today, and other major news outlets. You have embarrassed our fan-base, our programs, and the very players you claim to support.
To do the things that have been done are stupid and cowardly. That alone should be enough of a reason to not do them. Sadly, if you need further reasons to not perform these actions, please allow me to provide them to you now.
The Referees Did Not Cost Kentucky The Game
It’s easy to blame the referees. Did they make some bad calls? Sure. Did they miss some calls? Absolutely. Do you have a reason to be upset about how poor the officiating has been in this tournament? Without a doubt.
However, the referees did not cause Kentucky to miss seven of their nineteen free-throw attempts in a game that they lost by two points.
The referees did not allow multiple wide-open layups and dunks by double-teaming in the post and not rotating over to cover the lane in a game that we lost by two points.
The referees did not force Bam Adebayo to lose the ball in the post multiple times, and drop a few key rebounds late in a game that we lost by two points.
The referees did not allow a 12-0 run and blow a lead late in the game. In fact, most of those bad calls we all remember? They happened before halftime in a game that we lost by two points.
The referees did not leave Luke Maye wide open for a jumper with the game on the line in the final seconds of a game we lost by two points.
Sorry folks, as easy as it is to blame the referees for the loss, we have enough reasons to look at our own team first.
John Higgins Was Not The Only Referee On The Floor
It’s easy to blame Higgins for all of the bad calls. I’m here to tell you that while Higgins made some mistakes, he wasn’t the only one.
Officiating crews have three members on them. I know that most of you performing these cowardly deeds might not be able to count that high, but it’s true. It’s always that way, and it has been for a very long time.
That foul at the end of the half on De’Aaron Fox that wasn’t called? There’s a different official standing on the baseline. He didn’t blow the whistle. You know when he DID blow the whistle? When Isaiah Briscoe tried to win an Academy Award with his epic flop, and he got it a Tar Heel called for a charging foul. They canceled out, folks.
Also, when Higgins DID make a bad call, neither of his partners overturned his call. They have that option. It’s this unique thing where they can come together, discuss what they saw, and overturn the call. That never happened. That means you can’t blame just one person if a mistake was made.
Have Some Simple Human Decency
Let’s say that John Higgins walked out onto the floor, took an envelope of cash from Roy Williams, walked over to John Calipari, and started making it rain in front of him like a drunk college kid at a strip club.
That’s still no excuse for calling a business and harassing workers, people who had absolutely nothing to do with a basketball game, and making their days miserable. It’s still no excuse for calling a man and threatening to harm him and his family. The fact that the FBI has had to get involved should tell you just how out of hand this has gotten.
At the end of the day, this is a game. Yes, there’s a lot of money on the line. Yes, college basketball is king in this state, and Kentucky blue runs through our veins. None of that changes the fact that this is a sporting event. People don’t die because we didn’t go to the Final Four. Lives aren’t ruined forever because North Carolina beat us. None of us will go hungry tonight because Luke Maye hit a shot, or lose our jobs because we picked Kentucky to win it all in our office bracket pool.
To those Kentucky fans who are not doing these things, thank you for being the sane majority, the people who understand what this program means, what this game means, and how to carry yourselves with dignity and class. It’s what we ask of our players, and it’s what we should do as well.
To those of you who have gone out of your way to personally try to harm John Higgins, his family, and his business, you need to stop. You need to grow up, get a clue, and maybe stay away from the internet for a few days. It might do you some good.
Please stop embarrassing the rest of Big Blue Nation with your stupidity. You’ve already embarrassed yourself enough for all of us.