The game of basketball was invented by a man who grew up on a farm outside Almonte, Ont.
It sits just under 400 kilometres from Scotiabank Arena, home to the Toronto Raptors, a team now vying for the NBA title against the Golden State Warriors.
And the whistle that stops play in every game was created by a man from a place even closer to home for Canada’s only basketball team.
When basketball referees want to stop play, they blow the Fox 40.
It’s a whistle that was invented by Ron Foxcroft, a basketball referee himself who came up with the idea after the gold medal basketball game at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.
U.S. player Adrian Dantley took an elbow to the nose, Foxcroft told Charles Adler Tonight on Friday.
“I was standing in the trail position with my whistle, with a little pea in it, and it got stuck,” Foxcroft recounted.
He would later work a game in Brazil, where a pea once again became stuck.
“I decided that I wanted to invent a pea-less whistle,” Foxcroft said.
He told Adler that he hired an engineer, a scientist, someone with a Ph.D in sound and a music teacher — and that he had two prototypes ready to go, two and a half years later.
The Fox 40 whistle, with three chambers and no pea, was used for the first time at the Pan Am Games in Indianapolis in 1987.
Three years later, it had become the whistle used by sports organizations such as the National Basketball Association (NBA), the National Football League (NFL) and the Canadian Football League (CFL), said Fox 40’s website.
The Fox 40 whistle has a special connection to the arena clock, Foxcroft said.
The clock in every arena has a computer, and every referee carries a little black box with a black belt and a wire that reaches to within 12 inches of the whistle.
This is what’s called the Precision Time System, and “when they blow that whistle, it shuts the arena clock off at the speed of light,” Foxcroft said.
The Fox 40 whistle is produced in Mississauga and packaged in Foxcroft’s hometown of Hamilton — a game and its whistle born from Ontarians.
One more game, and an NBA championship trophy could find its way there too.
While Foxcroft is happy to see the Raptors capturing the imagination of sports fans across Canada, he’s careful not to openly cheer for a team.
“I’m cheering for the referees,” he told Adler.
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