Physical play leads to fines in China

BEIJING -- China's attempts to bring more
contact into the domestic game is behind the increase in
violence on court and has contributed to a rise in crowd
disorder, the country's basketball chief said on Thursday.

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming was one of several critics
who said the non-contact style prevalent in the China Basketball
Association was producing players who were not
tough enough for the international game.

After Yao and the national team bowed out of last August's
Beijing Olympics in the quarterfinals, CBA teams and players
were instructed to get more physical this season.

"After the Olympics, we realized that unless we strengthened
our physical presence, Chinese basketball would not be able to
compete with the world's best," CBA chief Liu Xiaonong said.

After the directive, however, a record $140,500 (960,000 yuan)
in fines have been assessed this season,
according to the CBA, some to players for violence on and off
the court and some to teams for crowd trouble.

"Some [teams] have been punished for their misbehaving fans,
who were outraged partly because they did not understand the new
standards the referees must enforce," Liu added.

"The league has not done a good enough job in getting the
message about physicality out."

The new directive also has helped expose the poor quality of
some of the officiating in the 18-team league, leading to a
string of controversial decisions, particularly in calling fouls
where there had been contact between players.

"There is too great a distance between the standard of
refereeing and what is required at this competitive level," Liu

Liu announced the formation of a working group to improve
standards and said officials from the NBA would be invited to
instruct Chinese referees.

A member of the working group said one of the results of
poor officiating was that some would perceive wrong calls as
proof of bias.