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Old Mon Feb 20, 2023, 12:01pm
BillyMac BillyMac is offline
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Diatribe ...

The jump ball is as outdated as two-hand set shots, laced basketballs, peach baskets, and chicken wire cages around the perimeter of the court. For generations of players and fans they are a forgettable anachronistic formality. Coaches bemoan inconsistency in officials tossing the ball, and unevenly governed rules about the movement of players during the jump ball, and some officials are weary of policing these microbursts of mayhem.

Once a game, the tallest players on each team square off against each other, the referee tries to make a decent toss, and the umpire just hopes that nothing "weird" happens because many of us, including me, don't know the jump balls rules as well as we knew them years ago.

Now that we only have about one jump ball per game, many officials, players, and coaches don't know the rules as well as we knew them back in ancient times. Back in ancient times every official knew all the permutations of the jump ball rules, before the toss, after the toss, after the tip, jumpers, nonjumpers on the circle, non-jumpers off the circle, backwards, forwards, inside out, and upside down. Officials had to know these jump ball restrictions because in some games you could have dozens of jump balls, in three different jump ball circles: the jump ball to start the game, each period, overtime periods, and all situations where we now use the alternating possession arrow to adjudicate. Officials, players, and coaches all knew the jump ball rules, some coaches even had different jump ball plays for each of the three jump ball circles depending on whether one expected to win or lose the jump ball.

How well do otherwise very good officials know, understand, and adjudicate the jump ball rules today, only memorizing and adjudicating the most egregious violations (ball touched on the way up, ball touched three times by jumper, ball caught by jumper, ball hitting the floor without being touched by at least one of the jumpers)?

How can the non-tossing official in a two person game accurately and realistically observe all eight nonjumpers and the two jumpers for violations, especially when jump ball rules are so complex (and we only see a jump ball about once a game), especially the seldom called violations, when such violations happen in a split second.

Can one recite all the jump ball rules without peeking at the rulebook? Based on original positions of players, jumpers, nonjumpers, on the circle, off the circle, who can move, limits of movement, crossing lines, before the toss, during the toss, after the toss, after the tip, add to that the limitations of the jumpers; and process, interpret, and enforce, all these rules within the fraction of a second that it takes for a jump ball? Be honest. If so, one is a better basketball official than I am (with apologies to Rudyard Kipling).

To my point of otherwise extremely competent officials not fully understanding and memorizing all the many jump ball rules and restrictions, several times a year I hear otherwise extremely competent varsity officials saying, prejump, "Hold your spots" to all eight nonjumpers, or, "You can't stand behind him”, to a player who is directly behind an opponent, both whom are ten feet off the jump ball circle.

I know that I should know the jump ball rules better, but I figure why bother for a play that only happens usually once per game; lasts only a split second; with rules that basically might as well be in "Greek" to players, coaches, and fans; and that usually goes "smoothly" 95% of the time.

The jump ball is archaic, some jump ball rules are poorly understood and/or poorly enforced, and we should start games with some other method. It's the twentieth-first century. We now have alternating possession arrows. The alternating possession arrow was invented by some genius for a good reason, so let's get rid of all jump balls, give the ball to the visitors, or flip a coin, to start the game, and use the possession arrow for the rest of the game, including overtimes.

God created alternating possession for a reason, to smite all jump balls.

Now, could somebody please help me down from this soapbox? I'm getting dizzy.
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Last edited by BillyMac; Wed Feb 22, 2023 at 02:44pm.
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