In the NBA Basketball, they have a rule book which defines traveling & fouls. However, if your name was Michael Jordan the rules did not apply, if Mike ripped off an opponents hand there was no foul but if Mike missed a shot & a defender was within 6 or 7 feet on him it was a foul. If you are L. James or K. Bryant the same basic rules apply to you as Mike. If you are a Rookie, you don't go to the foul line.
In college basketball, if a coach commits a technical foul such as foul language at a ref he gets a technical foul unless he is coach K. Actually college B-Ball is close to fair with respect to fouls calls on players.
In the NBA or NHL, fouls in the game's last few minutes are not in general called. In the NFL, holding & defensive interference are very subjective. It has been said that holding could be called on almost every play but only seems to be called against the weak teams.
In the NBA, fouls out on the floor are touch fouls, but under the hoop battery occurs without a call.
You may wonder what bought this up, was one of my teams screwed? No, just something I was thinking about on my dog walk!
foul (n) 1 (in sports) an unfair or invalid stroke or piece of play, esp. one involving interference with an opponent. • a collision or entanglement in riding, rowing, or running. • short for foul ball . 2 informal dated a disease in the feet of cattle.