Scott D. Pierce: Weird TV: Ref loses by TKO to a camera during BYU-Utah game

Published: Friday, Feb. 5 2010 12:00 a.m. MST

If you weren't at the BYU-Utah men's basketball game on Saturday, you probably missed one of the weirder TV-related incidents in recent memory.

About three minutes into the second half, as the teams went to time out, there was suddenly a ref lying on the floor. I had no idea what had happened, but someone nearby told me he'd been hit in the head with a TV camera.

Viewers caught a brief shot from a hand-held camera under the basket; a sudden jarring motion, and the ref stumbling away.

Camera 1, referee 0.

The ref was down for several minutes before leaving the floor. (He returned about 10 minutes later.) If you were watching at home, most of that time was taken up by commercials and play-by-play man James Bates vamping about, well, not much.

The folks at The mtn. assure me that Bates and commentator Joe Cravens were not aware of what happened; they only knew the ref was down.

And, yeah, it was better not to speculate.

But it was weird.

GOOD VIDEO: The mtn. did, however, have plenty of video of what happened with 34 seconds remaining in the game — including a clear angle of Utah's Marshall Henderson hitting BYU's Jackson Emery in the face.

Which was a good thing for everyone involved, because it kept the controversy over what happened to a minimum. Even the refs had to look at the video replay to see what happened.

OK, it wasn't a good thing for everyone involved — especially not Marshall, who was ejected and suspended for a game.

JUST WONDERING: I'm not expressing an opinion on the whole Henderson incident, except to say that the young man — a freshman — probably doesn't understand what he's set himself up for as he continues his career at Utah.

It's not just the fans who won't forget. Every time his name comes up in connection with a BYU game in any fashion, local TV, radio and print reporters are going to reference what happened on Saturday.

But it's also interesting to contrast the local coverage of Henderson with the local coverage of former BYU quarterback Max Hall's postgame comments after the Cougars beat the Utes back in November — the infamous "hate" speech. That continued to be a topic in the media for weeks afterward. Heck, there are some local sports talk radio hosts who still bring it up on a regular basis.

By comparison, Henderson hitting another player was almost a footnote in the local media. It lasted about one day on local sports talk radio.

I'm not sure what that says about local sports fans. I do know that there are rivalries in other parts of the country where a player from one school expressing hatred for a rival school would barely be a blip on the radar — and a player hitting a player from a rival school would ignite passions that would burn for days, weeks, months, years.

Maybe we really do live in a peculiar place ...

e-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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