Guest Editorial: Approve shot clock in Minn., just for fun
It wasn't long ago that high school basketball games were needlessly and painstakingly interrupted by numerous jump balls.
For those who have forgotten: When two players from separate teams gained equal possession of the ball, play was stopped and those players jumped for the ball — as a referee tossed it in the air — in one of three circles on the court.
That rule lasted into the early 1980s, when the current "alternating possession" rule was adopted. Now, the only jump ball at a high school basketball game is at the beginning, known as the tip-off.
It's why referees still exclaim "jump ball" when two players each have possession—even though jump balls haven't been part of the game (other than the opening tip-off) in decades.
In the late 1980s, a three-point line was added in high school basketball. That came with its own hand-wringing and controversy, yet we now know it has added to the game's excitement.
It's all part of an ongoing evolution of the game.
Earlier this week, a proposal to further increase the excitement of high school basketball games in Minnesota met defeat, when the Minnesota State High School League board of directors voted 13-5 to kill a plan to add a 35-second shot clock to boys' and girls' games. The decision came down even as coaches overwhelmingly continue to favor the idea.
Of all the troubles in the world, this of course ranks low. Yet it's a change that has been made elsewhere, eight states overall, and deserves attention in Minnesota.
We prefer games with shot clocks, and had hoped the MSHSL would finally adopt the rule for its sanctioned basketball games.
Those against shot clocks generally cite two reasons. First, adding a shot clock comes with certain costs, since there is associated equipment that must be purchased. And second, it requires one more person on a game crew to run the clock. Most schools likely can accommodate the cost, but finding people willing to learn the process and then regularly attend the games isn't always easy.
Yet they have successfully maneuvered these hurdles in other places — states like North Dakota and South Dakota, where schools don't have much extra money and where the pool of potential crew members is equally shallow.
The shot clock brings excitement to games. When there is no shot clock, teams can successfully slow the game and maintain control of the ball — especially in the waning minutes.
We also believe it would pump adrenaline into the sport among players and fans, who see shot clocks in use at every level above high school.
Traditionalists may not agree, but few fans or players marvel at defensive, slow-paced basketball. High-paced basketball is just more fun, for players and fans alike.
We know Minnesota coaches want it. We assume Minnesota fans want it.
And we hope that next time a shot-clock proposal comes before the MSHSL, it is finally approved.