The Whistleblower

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Title: The Whistleblower: Rooting for the Ref in the High-Stakes World of College Basketball
Published by: ForeEdge
Release Date: February 3, 2015
Pages: 226
ISBN13: 978-1611684513


During a season on the road with college basketball referees, Bob Katz watched the games they officiated, listened in on their candid conversations in locker rooms and hotel lobbies, and explored the intense challenges they regularly confront. Alone among thousands in the stadium and millions watching at home, the ref does not care who wins or loses. His only goal is fairness and neutrality. His passion to ensure the playing field stays level is shaped by character, training, and a rare—and rarely appreciated—kind of honor. In this vivid portrait of one consummate professional at the top of his game, Katz pulls off an unbelievable feat in The Whistleblower—readers actually come to root for the ref.

In a new afterword Katz reflects on the misunderstood and often denigrated role of the referee in sports and the looming implications for our increasingly partisan society.



The Whistleblower is as great a tour guide to the game of basketball—and thus the game of life— as any that I’ve ever come across. Katz performs the difficult task of simultaneously entertaining and deeply informing, and does it primarily through, of all figures, a referee, the intriguing and astute Ed Hightower.”
Ira Berkow, Pulitzer-Prize winning former New York Times sportswriter

“Two pages in and you know The Whistleblower is a different kind of sports book—intellectually different. From on high you’re transported into the world of one of college basketball’s all-time great referees [and] your eyes are opened to a man and a form of performance art that lingers long after the last whistle is blown.”
Armen Keteyian, 11-time Emmy winner and lead correspondent for Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports”

“If you love sports, pick up this book. It will take you into a new dimension when you watch your next game. Bob Katz’s take on big-time basketball… is great because you will realize what you’ve been missing!”
Juan Williams, author and FOX News analyst

“By following one of the NCAA’s best, Ed Hightower, Katz shines a welcome light on this often overlooked, often reviled, never fully appreciated figure on the hardwood floor: the one responsible for keeping things fair and square and honest to basketball’s principles of sportsmanship in what has become a multimillion-dollar industry. I’ll never be able to watch another game the  way—and neither will you.”
Dayton Duncan, documentary filmmaker and author The National Parks: America’s Best Idea and The Dust Bowl: An Illustrated History

“This book provides a rare, intimate glimpse into the lives, thoughts, and actions of referees: how they see the game and why they make or do not make a call. The author finds that a superlative referee is impartial, decisive, and most of all must possess an “x-factor” that is almost impossible to describe… Recommended for college basketball fans and sports fan in general.”
Library Journal

“March Madness means an annual descent into consuming massive amounts of college basketball. Even though the players might change, fans will be reunited with the familiar antics of long-time coaches and uniform colors of dominant programs such as Kentucky and Michigan State.

Within this swirl of activity and noise, there will be three people wearing black-and-white shirts patrolling the floor who will have a profound impact on the outcome. The same fans who will hurl expletives of rage in their direction in the arena probably wouldn’t recognize them if they were sitting at an adjoining table at a restaurant after a game.”
Ed Sherman, Chicago Tribune, read the full review here (requires registration) or here

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