Something's Wrong With The Game Of Basketball And It Needs Fixing

I can't speak for everyone on this issue but those with whom I speak frequently and I agree that there is something wrong with the game of basketball. If you don't agree, then this article is going to be pretty boring. If, on the other hand, you feel there are things about the game that need changing, you might have some interest in what follows.

Now, I'm not talking here about things like eligibility, jumping to the NBA or NCAA rulings. I'm talking about the on-the-court game and the rules/interpretations that apply.

Let's begin with "palming" or carrying the ball. Without getting into a detailed discussion of exactly what constitutes palming, I think we can all agree that what used to be palming is no longer considered a violation. It's hard to say how this came about but I don't believe there has been any rule changes that would allow players, principally point guards, to do what they are being allowed to do today. If this is the case, then it's the interpretation of the rule that has changed or worse still, simply a decision by officials simply to not call palming when it occurs. Granted it would be distracting if palming were called frequently but the facts of the matter are that if palming calls were made when they occur, within a relatively short period of time, the players would adjust. I don't blame the players. They are going to do what they can get away with just like the rest of us.

Another thing that needs changing is the play by post players when they try to "back in" for a short shot at the basket. Clearly, defensive players trying to defend the basket in this situation are put into a difficult if not impossible situation. How many times have you seen an offensive player force himself towards the basket and a defensive player called for a foul when he was simply holding his ground? The answer is "just about every game."

Why is there a 10 second limit on getting the ball past midcourt? There was a good reason for this rule when there was no shot clock but the rule is nothing more than a nuisance since the adoption of the clock. I've heard people try to defend it on the grounds that it prevents the offensive team from stalling but, in my opinion, that is a weak argument. Ultimately the offensive team is gong to have to bring it past mid court and I don't see what it accomplishes anything to require that it be done within 10 seconds. I find it notable that women's ball and international ball have no such rule.

Why does the ball become dead when it goes over the backboard? I have never heard anyone try to defend this and I have been unable to determine from my research why such a rule was adopted in the first place. Why not let the ball go over the backboard and allow play to continue. I cannot think of any way that continuing play would give an advantage to anyone or disrupt the game in any way. This raises another question. Why is a shot not allowed from behind the backboard? I can't imagine anyone trying such a shot but if they are willing to take the risk, why not? Several years ago in a game in Joel Coliseum, a Wake player clearly shot the ball over the backboard from the corner and made the shot. It was illegal but the referees did nothing to negate the basket. The shot is or at least was legal in the the NBA. It may have been changed but all of us have seen numerous replays of Larry Bird making that shot from behind the basket.

The 5 second closely guarded rule serves no good purpose. It was designed to prevent offensive teams from holding the ball but I don't think it has been successful. One more thing that officials have to make a judgment call on. They can't throw a ball up straight for a jump ball but they can tell when a player is closely guarded for 5 seconds. Go figure.

The worst rule in basketball is the one that allows players to call time out when they are falling out of bounds. This was brought about because teams are afforded too many time outs. If the number was reduced, then these time outs wouldn't be called. The teams couldn't then afford to use a time out for one possession. With the addition of TV timeouts it seems logical to me to reduce the number of time outs allotted.

Ever wonder why the basket is 10 feet from the floor, not 9 or 11 or 12 feet? Well, when Mr. Naismith invented the game, he attached a peach basket to the underside of the indoor track which was 10 feet high in the gymnasium he was using. The average height of a player at the time was probably around 5'6 or 5'7 at the most. Today that figure is much higher but the basket has not been moved even though there have been several attempts to do so. Several years ago, two college teams were given a week to practice at a basket that was higher than 10 feet. I can't remember if it was 11 feet or 12 feet. The two teams (Wake Forest was one of them) played an exhibition game in Greensboro at the coaches convention and both teams shot around 40%. However, nothing developed after the game to influence the height of the basket.

Another one. Why does play stop when the ball touches a player's foot? The original rule was put into place to prevent soccer players ( some of the original basketball players were soccer players ) from trying to use kicking the ball as a means of movement. I really don't think that is a problem today and I don't see why play has to be stopped when it occurs.

Alternating out of bounds. We have gone from a situation where there was a jump ball at the center circle after every goal to one where the officials claim they can't throw the ball up straight in the air for a jump ball. As time goes by, I feel stronger that the salvation of the game may rest with the employment of full time officials assigned from a single location nationally. At least for the Division 1A schools. It's next to impossible to have uniformity in officiating as long as officials are accountable to the various conferences. A step in that direction was taken recently when the ACC and Southeastern Conferences combined forces and assignments made within these two conferences. I haven't heard any reports on how this move has been assessed but, at least on paper, it makes a lot of sense.

There are other things that need changing or at least examined but I've about used up my space for this time. There may be disagreement with some of the ideas I have presented here but for those of us who saw basketball played before it became a contact sport, they warrant consideration.