Friday, January 23, 2015

End Games

In Michigan prep sports the boys' and women's teams alternate on a yearly basis who plays first on Friday nights.  This year, the boy's varsity basketball team plays before the women's varsity team. 

We caught the last fifty-five seconds of the boys' game.    Eaton Rapids was two points behind the visitors.  It took six clock minutes to play and Eaton Rapids lost by 12 points.  There were many, many referee interventions.  There were both intentional and unintentional fouls.  There was at least one technical foul.  It was painful to watch.

The end of the women's game was a different kettle of fish.

This has not been a great year for the women's varsity basketball team.  This game was different.  Every ball Eaton Rapids threw up in the air went through the basket.  Every ball the other team shot missed.  Eaton Rapids was up by 25 points going into the last two minutes of the game and the visiting coach decided to play the game rather than the refs.  The last two game minutes took about 150 clock seconds.

Larger life lessons?

I acknowledge that I am severely biased.

My visceral reaction is that kids (and coaches) who "play for the refs" are setting themselves up for a massive fail later in life.  The bullies and the predators come out after the refs leave the court.  Many, maybe even most kids will not be brutalized by bullies and predators at some point in their life.  But some will.  And their lives will be forever be referenced as  "before" and "after".  Hope is not a plan.

Play hard.  Play clean.  Play through the whistle instead of "for the whistle".  Watch your teammate's back.

And if the refs are not seeing the cheap-shots, then they are saying it is "OK".  Bullies are cowards.  They stop when they know they will get as good as they gave.

I wish....

I propose a rule change where any foul made in the last two minutes of any basketball game results in the automatic award of two point to the team that was fouled.

It is simple math.  A typical high school player makes 65% of their free throws.  That noodles out to an average of 1.3 points for a two shot infraction and 1.07 points for a one-and-one.  While most teams shoot about 50% while the clock is running their performance is "streaky"  The team that is behind commits fouls knowing that they will be giving up between 1-and-1.3 points on average in the hope that they will luck into a hot streak of better-than-50% shooting.  It happens often enough to seem like a viable plan.

And the fans suffer.

Awarding two point for every foul would force the team that opts for intentional fouling (basically letting the refs run the game) into three point shooting to close the gap.  I just don't see many teams choosing that route since any team with a smokin' hot three point game is unlikely to be behind.


  1. Oh yeah, that WOULD change the final minutes... and be a 'life lesson' along with it...

    1. Sounds like martial law. Any activity that raises your profile above the ground clutter will cause you pain.