Home Dumb Sports Rules: The foul out

Dumb Sports Rules: The foul out


basketball1Your favorite team’s best player picks up his second foul early in the first half, and you know what’s coming. It’s automatic. He has to go to the bench. Otherwise, he could pick up his third, and he’s more than halfway there to fouling out of the game.

That’s the rule in college basketball. Five fouls and you’re out. The NBA disqualifies players on a sixth foul.

Why, exactly, is a good question.

Football disqualifications come after particularly vile personal fouls. Hockey seems to require the commission of a felony. Baseball players can use foreign substances, steroids, whatever, and stay in the game.

Basketball players get to five or six fouls, and they’re history.

Which leads to the strong supposition among observers of the NBA that refs use one set of rules for stars and another set for everybody else, so that the stars don’t foul out or otherwise have their playing time reduced during the game due to foul trouble.

And the equally strong supposition among college basketball fans that the NCAA or respective conference officials either have it in for or look out for certain teams based on similar codes.

And conspiracy theories aside, coaches have to strategize around fouls as part of the game.

With the people in charge of college basketball in particular looking at what can be done to improve their game, this is a place to look to start. The outcome of a game shouldn’t be decided on whether or not one or the other team’s top players get two quick touch fouls in the first half, or a third or fourth foul in the second half.

The rule could be changed to award an extra free throw for a player fouled by an opponent beyond the limit. Or the disqualification on fouls rule could be completely done away with as anachronistic.

Either would be an improvement for the game.

– Column by Chris Graham



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.