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NBA ref Scott Foster: Officiating games in empty arenas would be ‘unique’

As the NBA continues to deliberate in conjunction with the NBPA on how a resumption of the 2019-20 season could conceivably occur, any games played will most assuredly be played without fans in attendance, at the onset if not much, much longer.

While there are of course no shortage of issues still to be worked out, one current NBA referee recently shared how holding games inside empty arenas could elicit one interesting aspect should such a plan come to fruition.

Scott Foster, who has officiated 1,477 regular-season games as well as 187 playoff games as an NBA referee, pointed out that the lack of fan noise in arenas will allow those watching games on television to hear a lot more on-court chatter.

According to Foster, that could be a good and a bad thing.

“I don’t know who I’d be more worried for, the players or referees at this point,” Foster said during an appearance on NBATV, as shared in a Twitter thread from Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. “I know I don’t want everything that we normally say to each other going out. But normally we’re all in a professional manner out there. But it is going to be different.”

Regardless of the nature of the on-court repartee, Foster said such a setup would make for a “unique experience for the referees, players, coaches, everybody who’s going to go through this.” What’s more, it will provide fans a new perspective, possibly even to things they should perhaps not be privy to.

“And then I think we’re going to need to really talk about and analyze what is OK for the public to hear and how we’re going to go about our business, Foster added. But it’s definitely going to be a different thing. I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

While Foster’s comments suggest he expects a resumption of the season, it certainly is not a guarantee given the myriad obstacles that remain that must be navigated. If it does, though, it will certainly be an interesting situation for everyone involved, including the fans watching from home.