DSC_0708 - Version 2I love basketball, but sometimes these days I wonder what is happening to the integrity of the game. What’s up with all the cheap play and dramatic antics? I watch it happen in games at every level, professional, college, and high school, as well as in my women’s rec-league.

Are you wondering what I’m talking about?

Let me explain by giving you a few examples. Recently before one of my daughter’s college games, she rolled her eyes and said, “Wait until you see #44 from the other team. She flops during every play, trying to draw a foul.” And sure enough during the game, play after play; this young woman (and a couple of other women from the team) threw themselves to the floor, arms flailing. I found myself hollering at the refs, “She’s flopping! That’s not a foul! Are you kidding me?” I was annoyed and I wasn’t even the coach. It reminded me of when I was coaching at the State Tournament last year and my daughter was guarding one of the best players in the state. While coaching I had a front row seat, and I watched as the girl literally grabbed my daughter’s wrist, pulled it into her jersey and then threw my daughter’s arm to the sky, as she heaved her own body to the floor. My daughter got the foul. I consider this cheap, and awfully close to dirty. I was appalled.

Tuesday, at a boys high school game, I watched, as over and over, a point guard dribbled to the side of his defender, and while bobbing his head up and down he’d slow a bit and flail his body around in a way that I suppose was suggesting to the referee that he was getting fouled. To me it looked as if he was having a seizure, and I thought, really? Who taught this kid to do that? Why not just dribble around the player, cut to the middle of the floor and look for a teammate to pass it to, so we can score? Why all the drama? Just play ball.

Why cant we just play the game? Not look for ways to cheat it? So many players these days drive to the basket with one thing in mind, to draw a foul. Not to make a layin, or to stop and pop a nice jumper, or better yet to draw the defense and pass to a teammate. Players are taught to simply attack the basket, which can be a good thing, but many are out of control and looking for a bail out, a foul to be called. Just watch a game and see how often players who drive to the hole are leaning so hard into the defender with their head down, that there is really no way that they can even see the basket. By the time these players get near the hoop they are often parallel to the floor as they fling the ball up and flail to the ground. Is this really a shot?

Should all these antics be part of the game? There are those (even my husband at times) who argue that this is smart basketball. I wouldn’t call it smart basketball, I call it cheap basketball and it rubs me the wrong way. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that you can totally get rid of it, but it has made me happy to see more and more referees hold their whistle as they watch kids toss themselves on the floor, rather than calling a foul. So there is hope.

Am I getting old? Set in my ways? Maybe a little, but I love this game and to add this crazy drama, seems disrespectful. There is something to be said about having players and teams focus on helping each other and simply playing the game. Yes, you want to be smart on the court, step in front of a drive to draw an offensive foul, play hard and be strong with the ball when you go to the hoop, that sort of thing, but do we have to try to win an Oscar on every play? Let’s leave acting for the stage and just play good hard basketball.