Courtside collusion

24th March, 2007

Dear Economist,

I’m a referee at the local basketball association. In one of the teams is a fantastic looking woman. She is distractingly beautiful, but also prone to committing fouls, often collecting the maximum of five fouls and being forced to be substituted.

Upon receiving her fifth foul, she nearly always walks to the bench, furiously removes her singlet and sits around for the remainder of the game in her sports bra. This brings the two male referees great utility.

However, it is costly to call for each of those five fouls. No referee wants the gorgeous girl to be angry with him, as we all hold on to the slim possibility that our stars may align one day.

Grasping this slim hope, sometimes each referee will avoid making 50-50 calls in the hope that his partner will. If both officials think this way too often, then she stays on court and so do her clothes. What to do?

Thanks in advance,

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