Thursday, February 20, 2014

NBA: Referee Betting on Games (2007)

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During the years of 2005 through 2007 Tim Donaghy former NBA ref was accused of betting on multiple NBA games  that he was refereeing during the 2006 and 2007 season. Donaghy who worked as a referee in the NBA for 13 seasons from 1994-200. He officiated 772 regular season games and 20 playoffs games. On the bets that he made he had a winning percentage between 70 to 80 percent. Before he would bet on a game he would use his background knowledge by talking to referees that are refereeing that game and ask them how they were feeling about a certain player whether or not they will give that player some calls. For example Allen Iverson got into an argument with a ref about a certain call. The NBA fined him 25,000 dollars and the referees union though he should have been suspended a few. The next day Donaghy was refereeing a Iverson and also place a bet against Iverson's team because he knew so of the referees wanted payback and they missed a few calls and Iverson's team loss. When the home team was favored by 0-4½ points, it went 5-12 in games officiated by Donaghy this season, according to, a Web site that tracks referee trends. Home underdogs were 1-7 when the spread was 5-9.5 points. Donaghy had gambling problem and could not stop. He said it start betting his friends and golf and cards and then started to move on to sports games. He thought his NBA would be his best bet because he has been working in the NBA for so long that he knows the ins and outs and he is refereeing the games too.

Former NBA referee, Tim Donaghy

The definition of Utilitarianism is to have happiness or pleasure are the only things of intrinsic value. We ought to bring about happiness and pleasure in all beings capable of feeling it. The happiness for Tim Donaghy was refereeing basketball games, but soon as he started to gambling that happiness changed. Tim Donaghy was a normal average Joe was a NBA ref who made about 300,000 thousand dollars a year he was happily married and had four kids. After his happiness was referee the game he loved it changed to winning tons of money. Betting on games that you ref brought him joy because he knew that he was going to win those games because he could control them. In utilitarianism the main reason why everyone wants to be happy is if happiness is valuable, there is no difference morally-speaking  between my happiness and your happiness. Donaghy's selfish happiness made millions of people unhappy with what he did. Fans, players coaches, owners, even the commissioner David Stern was not happy. It  only made Donaghy happy because he was making money and providing for his family." As a competitor, as hard as I play, it is disappointing, definitely," Lebron James  said.

Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said he was surprised to learn of Donaghy's situation. "I think everybody had  the same kind of reaction whether you played in the league or just a regular citizen," Billups said. These players felt like they were cheated in some of the games that they played in because of what Donaghy did during the 2006 and 2007 seasons. This scandal does not follow what Utilitarianism stands for because you need to first make yourself  have happiness and second others around you which Donaghy does not do. He let down his family his friends, players in the NBA, the other referees in the league, owners and especially who love the game of basketball just like Donaghy once did.

Referee Tim Donaghy during an NBA game

Kantianism Immanuel Kent was born in 1724 and came up with the theory what we call Kantianism. Kant came up with four principles when coming up with Kantianism. The first one is Act rationally, meaning do not act inconsistently in your own actions or consider yourself exempt from rules. The second principle is allow and help people to make a rational decisions. The third principle is respect people, their autonomy, and the individual needs and differences. The fourth and final principle is Be motivated by good will, seeking to do what is right because it is right. Based on the information of this scandal of Tim Donaghy, Donaghy did not follow any of the principles of Kantianism because he did not act rationally by betting on games that he was betting on because it is immorally wrong to bet a sporting event that can control to help you win the game. Also  Donaghy was not motivated by good willing and was not seeking to do what is right because it is right. He cheated in order to get what he wanted and this acted affected outcome of teams records and their chances to make the playoffs. The definition of a maxim is a will do action in order to achieve a purpose. Kant has three shopkeeper maxims which are I will be honest with my customers in order to gain their trust and get repeat business, I will be honest with my customers because I like them, and I will be honest with my customers because that is the right thing to do. In my example of the referee scandal you could look at the fans as the customers and Tim Donaghy was not honest with his customers in any of the three ways Kant's talks about. The only one that you could  think he followed was the first one because fans kept on coming to the games because they trusted he knowledge as an NBA ref and be a good and fair ref.

Another referee moment with Jim Donaghy
Individualism Milton Friedman Economist came up with the theory of Individualism. he though that the goal of business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business person had to maximize their profit for the owner or the stockholders. The NBA has many stakeholders and makes tons of money. I think helped and hurt the NBA's profit because during his time refereeing Donaghy made crazy calls that could change the outcome of the game or even miss obvious foul calls. Fans would watch the game or go to the games they would want to see what crazy call or no call Donaghy would do. For example one time Donaghy ejected head coach of the San Antonio Spurs Greg Popovich during a game and then went a head to eject the assistant coach of the Spurs in the next couple of possessions. People like seeing crazy things like this during basketball games. He also hurt the NBA's profits because people were shocked about the NBA did not  know about this right away and then people started to think the NBA was fixed kind of the way WWE wrestling is this made people less interested during the year but Stern brought the NBA back and better then ever after this scandal.

Virtue TheoryVirtue Theory The characteristics that allow things to function properly are called good making features or virtues. They depend on two things one is the thing's function and the other is the thing's circumstances. There are four main virtues of character. The first one is Courage. Courage is risk taking and willingness to take a stand for the right ideas and actions. Donaghy took the courage to try something that is illegal for someone to do and he was pretty good at it until he was caught by the FBI in 2007. He took a risk at something that he knew was against law and it backed fired because he went to jail and was banned by the NBA to referee ever again. The next virtue is Honesty. Honesty is in agreements, hiring and treatment of employees, customers and others companies. Donaghy was not honest he cheated the NBA as a whole he hurt the name of the NBA for sometime and cheated to get where he was in wealth. The next virtue is Temperance. Temperance means having reasonable expectations and desire. Donaghy did not have expectations and desires because he did what ever it took to wining as many NBA games as he could be fixing the games. Donaghy had a winning percentage between 70-80 percent which is very high when betting on games. He is looked as criminal by the way he acted and its unfair to others that bet and do well because it will cause people to get curious on their success. The final virtue is Justice. Justice is hard work, quality products, good ideas, fair practices. Donaghy hard work to becoming an NBA ref is all washed away on things that he did during the 2006- 2007 season. The quality for the NBA at this time was considered fake because of Donaghy fixing the games. These were not fair practices that Donaghy conducted.

Looking at the scandal of Tim Donaghy in 2007 shows us how an everyday normal person can cheat a professional sport organization and win a lot of money be refereeing games and fixing calls by using all four the main types in class Kantianism, Utilitarianism, Individualism, and virtue theory all relate to this scandal. I think that Justice was severed in catching Tim Donaghy and he deserves to be in jail. 


"Donaghy under Investigation for Betting on NBA games." N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

"Chicago Sports Guru." Tim Donaghy Details How NBA Officials, League Allegedly Fix Games (Exclusive Interview Part 3). N.p., June 2007. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

Beck, Howard, and Michael S. Schmidt. "Former N.B.A. Referee Pleads Guilty." The New York Times. The New York Times, 15 Aug. 2007. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

Strauss, Robert. "Sympathy for Donaghy at School Reunion." The New York Times. The New York Times, 28 July 2007. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.

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