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The Whistleblower
Rooting for the Ref in the High-Stakes World of College Basketball
Bob Katz

Available only as an ebook.

2015 • 226 pp. 14 illus. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Basketball / Sport Biography / Sociology of Sports

$19.99 Ebook, 978-1-61168-710-1

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

“Katz claims that by the time he’d seen enough college basketball games to finish The Whistleblower, he’d trained himself to watch the ref and pay no attention to the players or... [continued in Reviews below]”—Bill Littlefield, Boston Globe

A riveting tour of college basketball, guided by an unlikely sports hero: the referee

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 challenges they must regularly confront. In this portrait of one consummate professional at the top of his game, Katz pulls off an unbelievable feat: In The Whistleblower, we come to actually root for the ref.

Ed Hightower, raised in poverty in the segregated rural South, went on to become superintendent of schools in Edwardsville, Illinois. But it is his side-career as an elite NCAA referee (4 NCAA Championship games, 12 Final Fours) that has earned him renown—which in the eyes of angry coaches and hostile fans is a far cry from affection. Alone among thousands in the stadium and millions watching at home, the ref’s goal is fairness and neutrality. He truly does not care who wins or loses. His passion to do the right thing on the court is shaped by character and training and a rare kind of honor. In The Whistleblower, the fascinating yet nearly unknown role of the referee is artfully revealed by a writer of talent.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

"Katz claims that by the time he’d seen enough college basketball games to finish The Whistleblower, he’d trained himself to watch the ref and pay no attention to the players or the score of the game. None of his readers will take it that far, but they’ll certainly have a greater appreciation for the work the officials do after reading the book.” —Bill Littlefield, Boston Globe

"Given the American sporting culture that universally vilifies officials, the book is a worthwhile reminder that the refs are real people, too. And not as corrupt and inept and biased against your team as you think.” —Yahoo Sports

"Katz is a talented writer who provides a vivid account of a world not seen by college basketball fans. He shows the referees’ complete dedication to the art of working a game.”—Chicago Tribune

"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

"Katz put readers right inside Hightower's head. Feeling all the pressure, totally changing my view on refs in general. The writing was phenomenal, and there were times when I was like WE ARE STILL TALKING ABOUT BASKETBALL, RIGHT? It was that interesting.”—
Kick Ass Book Reviews

“This book is very entertaining and gives the many basketball fans an insight to the world of ‘big time’ officiating.”—
Journal Gazette & Times-Courier (Matoon, Illinois)

“Katz humanizes the referees.”—
University of Kentucky Sports Notebook

“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

“I always enjoyed calling games where Ed Hightower was one of the officials. He always had control of the game. Now Hightower is coming out with a new book called The Whistleblower: Rooting for the Ref in the High Stakes World of College Basketball. Written by Bob Katz, it chronicles a year in the life of referee Hightower, providing behind-the-scenes perspective. It is available in bookstores this week.”—Dick Vitale

“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 same way—and neither will you.”—Dayton Duncan, documentary filmmaker and author of The National Parks: America's Best Idea

“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 Channel analyst

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

BOB KATZ has written on sports and culture for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and other publications. His previous books include Third and Long, a Sports Illustrated “summer reads” pick, and Elaine’s Circle.

Mon, 4 Feb 2019 13:46:24 -0500