Sunday, March 18, 2007


Watching the end of the UVA-Tennessee game just now, and the Xavier-Ohio State game yesterday, I am reminded of the part of basketball that I really despise.

End of game fouling.

Every team does it. When they're behind late in the game, they foul members of the opposing team in order to stop the clock, hope they miss the free throws, and get the ball back. It makes the end drag on forever all the while giving the viewer the joy of watching a lot of standing around, with the occasional uncontested 15-foot shot.

It's viewer Kryptonite.

What is the name of that type of foul they almost never call in these situation? Oh yes, it's called "intentional foul". Yesterday, after Greg Oden bodyslammed the Xavier player in order to extend the game, the announcers discussed whether it should have been called an intentional foul. Ultimately they decided that it just wasn't rough enough to be called an intentional foul.

Uh, what? Isn't it called "intentional foul"? Here's the definition of "intentional", according to
1.done with intention or on purpose; intended: an intentional insult. Antonym: accidental.
Where does "hard" or "rough" appear in that definition? Nowhere. If the foul is done on purpose, it is "intentional", if the word is given its ordinary meaning. In my opinion, every one of these fouls, hard or not, would be called an intentional foul, giving the foulee two free throws and the ball out of bounds. Instead, these are almost NEVER called intentional fouls, even though EVERYONE KNOWS that they're done intentionally. Even the announcers say things like, "They have to foul now," when the appropriate time comes.

It is doubly painful that the failure to call Oden's foul "intentional" ultimately gave Ohio State a chance to win a game they should have lost, and they ultimately won it.

Enforcing the rule properly would have the double benefit of a) enforcing the rules in a way that makes sense, and b) discouraging activity that makes for painfully boring television.

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