Saturday, March 26, 2016

How to Fix Basketball's Tiresome Endgame

March Madness is upon us. Basketball fans rejoice. However, these games are really two distinct games:  the first lasts 39 game minutes and is based on quickness, teamwork, athleticism, strategy, and will; the second lasts 1 game minute and is based on a free throw contest, interspersed with countless fouls and timeouts.

Granted, these last-minute affairs can be exhilarating but that's because of the stakes not the action. Don't be fooled by ESPN:  those exciting clips should include the countless commercial breaks in the last 30 seconds to reflect accurately the tedium that comes with constant pausing.

There may be one simple fix to restore the game to 40 minutes of basketball. When a foul is called, allow the team to option to forgo the free throw shooting opportunity in exchange for a fresh shot clock. A competitive response to this rule change might be overly physical attempts to steal the resulting inbound pass, but this is already accounted for with the intentional foul rule (if it's enforced).

I have been involved with sports long enough to know that the true competitive response is not easily predictable so I would recommend experimenting with this rule change in exhibition matches and lower divisions.

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