Basketball is the only sport where players can be ejected from a game as a result of the number of fouls that they commit.
In football, you can commit a penalty on five consecutive plays and remain in the game. In hockey, a violation results in a trip to the penalty box. In soccer, you a foul results in a free kick, but a player is allowed to commit any number of fouls. In baseball, fouls are something completely different.
In all four of those sports, a player can be tossed from the game for egregious violations — late-hits or helmet-to-helmet contact in football, dirty tackles in soccer, fighting in hockey, hitting a batter in baseball — but none of them have anything close to the foul limit that exists in basketball.
On Friday, ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan put together an argument for getting rid of the foul out rule. And you know … it makes sense.
Team build game plans around getting an opposing team’s best player into foul trouble. Since it only takes a measly five fouls for a player to be disqualified, picking up two early fouls is an easy way to earn a spot on the bench for an extended period of time. Get whistled for your fourth foul in the middle of the second half and don’t expect to be seen again until after the final TV timeout. That was the gameplan for the majority of Kentucky’s opponents this past season. The only way anyone was going to be able to handle Anthony Davis was if he was on the bench.
How many matchups have been ruined because a star was sent to the bench early with foul trouble? How many times have we seen have the player we expected because they cannot be aggressive with four fouls? how many times do you think Big Ten big men are going to flop when Cody Zeller makes a power move in the post to try and draw a cheap foul against a Player of the Year candidate? How many minutes will Zeller be forced to sit on the bench because the referees rewarded an acting job?
There is only one flaw in Brennan’s argument: the rule is never going to change. He even makes reference to that fact: “For the purposes of this discussion, let’s agree to table any and all SOTG (Sanctity of the Game) arguments.”
The SOTG arguments are all that matter, however. They are the reason that Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in New York Mets history and Armando Galaraga doesn’t have a perfect game to his credit. They are the reason that I have to deal with my twitter feed being flooded on a daily basis with folks discussing whether or not we will ever see a playoff in college football. They are the reason that there are still hits like this happening every game in the NFL.
Eamonn, I’m with ya, bro.
But it feels like you’re fighting a losing battle.