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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Lessons from a High School Tournament

Last week, I was pleased to be one of two PA Announcers for a premier High School Girls tournament, the Portland Holiday Classic.  It was an outstanding tournament with very competitive teams and spectacular talent.  So many of these players will be successfully playing at the next level in the near future.  After watching 12 games of amazing High School basketball, I have a couple of thoughts:

SHOT CLOCK.  The time for a shot clock in high school basketball in Oregon is past due.  Several times during the tournament, I witnessed spectacular defense, and I would absent-mindedly look up to see the shot clock time remaining, hoping that spectacular defense would be rewarded, only to remember that high school basketball is in the stone age in Oregon when it comes to this.  The only argument I have heard that has merit against a shot clock is "young players need to learn fundamentals, and a shot clock forces them to make bad decisions".  I disagree.   At the sub-varsity level, this is true.  I would not advocate for a shot clock for JV, JV2, or Freshman team play.  However, at the varsity level, players should have the offensive skill to effectively get done what needs to get done within 30 seconds (or 35, or 40).  This is not unreasonable.  Solid defense should be rewarded if they can stop their opponent from scoring.  Although I did not witness this in this tournament, this would also eliminate the silly sideshow that is the "stall game", where teams just hold the ball for the whole game.  This is hokey basketball and should be eliminated.  The shot clock would improve all aspects of the game and develop better players.

UNLESS IT'S ENCOURAGING, SHUT UP!  I heard so many fans shouting at officials from the stands.  A few times, I was sure I was turning red from embarrassment, and I didn't even know who the insufferable cretins were. Their "feedback" was often ridiculously wrong.  They clearly do not understand the rules of basketball.  Even if the criticism was valid, shouting it during a game from the stands is not going to make a difference.  After one blowhard had his rant, a neighboring fan asked "do they ever make the RIGHT call? Or do you just like to hear yourself yell?"  I did not hear a response.  Later that blowhard seemed offended when told by game officials to shut up or leave.
There is a shortage of high school officials right now.  There just are not enough people stepping up to learn the profession.  Many young people say they do not want to get abused by ill-informed blowhards, so they hesitate becoming an official.  Every time you yell at an official or call names, you are contributing to the problem.  If you want to see the quality of officiating increase, shut up!  Encourage the folks, who, at the risk of getting abused, support student-athletes in great ways.  Better yet, find out how you can be an official!  You talk a good game, let's see it on the court!  You'll learn that the rules, mechanics, and all the rest are not as easy as you think it is, and soon you'll realize how difficult it is to make the right call while some jackwagon in the stands is insulting you.
In all seriousness, officials are needed!  Check out New Officials for more info.

The Portland area has some seriously competitive basketball to watch at all levels.  Go watch some games!

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