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There’s “Fair Play”, and Then There’s Fair Play June 20, 2006

Posted by Arnold in Arnold.
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Sport, to me, is all about winning fairly. You have to win and you have to do it fairly. "Fair" in a sporting context means two things — legally fair and ethically fair. In order to ensure that the players abide by the first, we have rules and officials to see that they are followed. But what about the ethical factor? Who looks after that? Does it even matter?

I'm writing this post after having seen the Mavericks employ the "Hack-a-Shaq" play against the Heat; so I'll start off with that. Is "Hack-a-Shaq" fair? By the current rules of the NBA, it certainly is. And when you're playing for the Championship, you're going to use every little trick you can to help get you there.

Does "Hack-a-Shaq" improve the quality of the game? No, it doesn't. Does it call for any special skills to be employed? No. Does it add to the viewing pleasure of watching the game? No. According to me, it actually detracts from it. And yet, since it's legal and, at times, the most sensible game plan, you can't blame the opposing team from using it.

What about walking a batter in baseball? Two away, second and third base loaded, you see a guy who's hitting .400 walking up to bat with a lousy hitter on deck to follow. What do you do? Walk him, of course. Again, this does not improve the quality of the game in any way. In fact, I don't like watching a batter being intentionally walked at all. But as long as it remains legal and the smartest choice to make (Game Theory-wise, at least), you'd be a fool not to do it.

So what is to be done about it? I think we can do with changing some of the rules to start with. Tighten the rules to make ethical fouls into legal ones. In basketball this has already been done many times in the past. Examples include the introduction of the 24-second shot clock, 8-second half-court violation, 3-second defensive violation etc. Football authorities (FIFA) too have gone some way in criminalizing ethical fouls. The no nonsense attitude of referees toward diving and play-acting is evidence of the same.

With respect to "Hack-a-Shaq", I would suggest having "away from the ball" fouls fetch one free throw and retained possession for the entire fourth quarter, instead of only the final two minutes, as is the current rule.

I don't believe this is "trying to change the rule book in order to protect one particular person". I just think it improves the quality of the game.

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Comments»

1. me - June 20, 2006

humm

2. Mere funde » Blog Archive » Wade turns on the Heat!! - June 23, 2006

[…] Also remembered will be the flagrant use of the infamous Hack-a-Shaq by the Mavericks, which resulted in the suspension of Jerry Stackhouse from Game 5. Arnold has a great piece on it (here). Game 5 also left a bad taste in the mouth with Nowitzki kicking the ball in the stands and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban being fined for "acts-of-misconduct". […]

3. Pavilion Seat » Blog Archive » Wade Turns on the Heat - June 26, 2006

[…] Also remembered will be the flagrant use of the infamous Hack-a-Shaq by the Mavericks, which resulted in the suspension of Jerry Stackhouse from Game 5. Arnold has a great piece on it (here). Game 5 also left a bad taste in the mouth with Nowitzki kicking the ball in the stands and Mavericks owner Mark Cuban being fined for "acts-of-misconduct". […]


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