The NCAA Basketball Reformation Of 2006-2007

It’s March Mischievousness
March Mayhem? March Mania?

It’s that time of year when, in commemoration of the impending NCAA Basketball Tournament and the attendant – and duly trademarked – March Madness®,1 I have cleansed my soul by performing the ritual lambasting and lamenting of the most atrocious, detestable, despicable, indefensible, counterproductive, unfair, vile, and wretched rule ever propagated in basketball or, indeed, any sport.2

I refer, of course, to allowing a player with the ball to call timeout while running, falling, jumping, or otherwise transporting himself and the ball out of bounds, as is being accomplished with gusto and athletic prowess in this photo:

The NCAA Rules, Dude
Some Of Them Reek

This rule is soooooooo bad that the NBA rescinded it. Heck, this rule is so bad that Professional Wrestling wouldn’t use it.

The rationale that permits the team in control of the ball to place the game in suspended animation by calling time-out to save itself from a penalty would seem, on the face of it, to have much in common with Anime Physics, in which time routinely stops while the character being attacked transforms into something more powerful, protecting that hero from the villains until the transformation is completed, at which time the newly activated superpowers are used to counterattack.

Under what other (non-faith-based) system of logic does it make sense that a player in mid-air, clearly and inevitably headed out of bounds, can call time-out before he lands and, at the end of the time-out, that player’s team will retain possession of the ball?

Besides being, oh, let’s call it “appallingly, ridiculously, stupidly stupid,” this statute gives the offense a tremendous advantage. The defense is punished for their effectiveness. When the defense legally forces the player with the ball out of bounds, the team on offense is not only rescued in the nick of time but allowed to regroup and then offered the chance to run a set play.3

If it’s such a wonderful concept, let the team without the ball call time-out, for example, when the other team is on the verge of shooting an uncontested lay-up.

Or, just allow any player to call timeout whenever desired. I fully expect to see a player begin to swing his fist at an opponent and, just before impact, call time out, avoiding the foul.

To top off this farce, the sportscasters invariably praise the fast thinking and court savvy of those players who use the salvation-by-time-out method.

Of course, maybe I’m just jealous. I’d love to be able to call a few time outs in non-basketball real life. Hassles with businessmen, friends, family, lovers, and humanity in general would be much less traumatic if I knew I always had the option to call a timeout.

Don’t Nail Those Theses To The Backboard

After years of being able to rely on the NCAA Basketball Rules Committee to uphold tradition over common sense, I have been deprived of my sacrament. In a suspiciously reasonable move, the NCAA, if Men’s & Women’s NCAA Basketball Rules Changes – 2006/2007 is to be believed, this foulness has been eradicated. The actual scripture follows:

Use of Timeouts. (Rule 5-10.1.a). A timeout request shall not be recognized when an airborne player’s momentum is carrying him/her either out-of bounds or into the backcourt. Rationale: Often the player has already committed a violation before the timeout is granted. This play has occurred much too frequently in the game

So, what does one do when there is nary a sacrificial virgin to be found?

Well, it’s gotta be a better response than

When in doubt,


Call Timeout
  1. The short story is that “March Madness” is indeed a registered trademark, held jointly by the NCAA and the Illinois High School Association. For a more detailed look at the court battles and the legal principles involved, check out the explication, Basketball Fans: Beware of March Madness®!, proffered by the good folks at the law firm of Fairfield and Woods.

    In addition, the NCAA is the sole owner of the trademarks for “The Big Dance,” “Final Four” and “Elite Eight.”

    On the other hand, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association (KHSAA) holds the trademark to the term, “Sweet Sixteen,” which it uses to reference its state basketball tournament. The KHSAA allows the NCAA to use “Sweet Sixteen” exclusively for collegiate-level marketing while retaining the right to use the term for marketing its own high-school tournament marketing.

    According to the NCAA Trademarks web page, the NCAA also holds the trademark to the following (among others):

    • Frozen Four® (ice hockey championships)
    • It’s More Than A Game®
    • The Road Ends Here™
    • It’s the Journey®
    • The Road to the Final Four®
    • “The Road to X” where X = wherever the finals are played that year. E.g., The Road to Atlanta™, The Road to Indianapolis™, …
    • And Then There Were Four™
    • F4™
    • YES® [Oddly, “NO” isn’t listed as a trademarked NCAA term. Nor is “MAYBE” or “MAYBE YES, MAYBE NO.” Consequently, I am now applying for these trademarks; the reader is cautioned not to use these words, either alone or with other terms, without the written permission of Heck Of A Guy, Inc. One time fees and annual Licensing costs are available on request.]

    That page also warns, “The NCAA must grant approval before use of NCAA trademarks.” []

  2. OK, maybe the stipulation, according to legend, that the winners of those ball games at Chichen Itza were to be deified by beheading would be a contender, but otherwise, the timeout rule is definitely the worst. []
  3. A similarly misguided rule that is loathsome in its own right but falls short of the horror that is the going-out-of-bounds-timeout regulation, is the ability of a player who cannot throw the ball to a teammate from out of bounds in the first 4.99999999 seconds of the five seconds allowed to call timeout, and receive another try with another 5 seconds to get the ball inbounds. This rule, although patently unfair, is arguably less egregious because it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the game to the same degree. Of course, your top timeout specialists can call these two types of timeout in succession, once when going out of bound and then to prevent a five-second count on the throw-in, rescuing themselves from their ineptitude twice through loopholes without a second ticking off the game clock. []

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