It’s been 10 days now, and some Kentucky fans, when not shoveling out their overflowing diapers, are still making harassing phone calls to and trying to sink the business of longtime referee John Higgins.
“You lose a little faith in people,” Higgins told the Omaha World-Herald.
Police have provided Higgins with extra security due to death threats, obviously the most serious of the reactions since Kentucky fans took issue with the officiating in their two-point loss to North Carolina on March 26. (Important note: I don’t care if the officiating was actually bad or not. No one cares. Get over yourselves.) Fans have posted his home address online, and have made non-stop calls to his Omaha-area roofing business, tying up all three company phone lines. Higgins said some individual Kentucky fans called as many as 50 times per day.
Things have gotten a little better since he blocked calls from Kentucky area codes, but some lasting damage is done: Tens of thousands of people flooded the Facebook page for Higgins’s business to leave negative reviews and drop its rating from a 4.8 to a 1.2. They’ve also filed false complaints with the Better Business Bureau.
Higgins is pleading with people to chill the fuck out.
“At the end of the day, it’s a basketball game,” he said. “It does not affect anyone’s life.”
(Naturally, there are Kentucky fans in the comments on the World-Herald article whining about that quote. Jesus Christ.)
Higgins said the harassment started almost immediately after the game—right around the time Wildcats coach John Calipari criticized the officiating. According to WOWT-TV, the flood began after Kentucky Sports Radio mentioned the name of Higgins’s business on the air. And while the host said he didn’t advocate harassment, he had to know exactly what would happen.
Last Wednesday, Kentucky’s athletics department put out a statement telling fans to practice good sportsmanship, and Calipari tweeted this:
Neither have referred to the harassment since. Meanwhile, Higgins’s work was graded so well by his supervisors that he was selected to referee the Gonzaga-South Carolina Final Four game.
Not to pick on Kentucky, because literally every fan base is bad enough that this could happen. But seriously, cut this shit out. Fans threatening refs do not come across as “passionate,” as I’m sure they’d describe it. It makes them bad, sad people, and it makes the rest of us think worse of the entire fan base. If they can live with that, fine. Just don’t wonder why everyone roots for you to fail.