Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Basketball--And How To Improve It

Despite the fact that any sports fans with taste and class are watching truly great sports like baseball or German Rules Hackeysack, there's a lot of popularity right now for basketball.  This makes no sense, because basketball is to sports what a plate of rocks and sticks is to fine cuisine.

But, you protest, basketball is a game of great skill and endurance!  Those athletes are truly great!  I have no doubt that great talent is wasted on the sport, as Michael Jordan is one of the all-time greatest athletes second only to Jim Thorpe.  And it does take great skill, as does playing billiards with a rope instead of a cue.  However, that does not mean it is worth watching.  I'll explain.

What do football, hockey, and professional bullriding all have in common?  That's right--in each of those sports, the event doesn't come to a total momentum-destroying standstill every time someone is touched by the opposing player. 

Yes, basketball is the only sport of which I'm aware that players from one team will intentionally "foul" in order to bring on penalty shots (and don't bring up delay of game penalties in football, because football would obviously be vastly improved with a continuously running clock as they have in soccer).  How many games are a matter of dribble, dribble, pass, dribble, pass, shoot, rebound, dribble, okay getting boring but interesting, dribble, dribble, ooh look it's exciting now, dribble, pass, dribble, dribble, FOUL okay now let's give the fouled team two free throws.

Why not just eliminate the game entirely and let each time take a fixed number of free throws to determine the score?  That's what it ends up being, anyway.

How to fix the game?  Here are some easy steps:

1) Play clock doesn't stop.  Figure on a game taking 120 minutes, with a clean start and end time. 

2) A true foul is one that injures another player or at least knocks them flat on their backs.  The penalty, instead of free throws, is you have to stand still while the fouled player hucks the ball at you with all their strength, and you can't block it with your hands.

3) The whole thing should really be done on ice skates. 

4) Defenders are allowed to goaltend, but offense is allowed to form human stepstools to get serious leverage and height.

5) Travelling?  Where I come from, we call that initiative.

6) Add three more players on each team.  Won't help the game much, but will certainly help the nerdy kids feel less left out.

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