35 Seconds to Shoot

35 Seconds to Shoot

High school basketball teams have played with the same strategy for a long time. When a team is up at the end of a game, they hang on to the ball and force the other team to foul. What if they couldn’t do that? What if they were required to shoot the ball in 35 seconds and, if they didn’t, they’d lose possession of the ball?

A shot clock is used in college and professional basketball, but very rarely in high school. The National Federation of High Schools rulebook allows a shot clock on the high school level, but doesn’t require it.

The most compelling reason not to have a shot clock is financial. A pair of shot clocks from Daktronics (the leading scoreboard manufacturer) would cost nearly $2000.This cost excludes the price to rewire the gym’s scoreboard system, which isn’t cheap. The school would also have to pay somebody to run the clock during games, which would be more money out of the school’s pocket.

Putting money aside, would a shot clock make the game better? If your definition of better is more points scored and a faster pace, then yes, it would make it better. A small number of states use the shot clock in high school. Kansas, unfortunately, doesn’t use a shot clock on the high school level, but California schools do. I was fortunate enough to spend the first semester of this year in a high school in California, and I attended a few basketball games while I was there. The games were higher-scoring, faster-paced, and overall more exciting to watch because of the pace.

The talent level here at Northwest, and in the Sunflower League, is much higher than it was in California, but they somehow managed to have higher scoring games there. How is that possible? Oh yeah, I forgot, they were forced to shoot the ball every 35 seconds instead of running offensive plays for three or four minutes. Not only would a shot clock increase the offense, but players could learn solid team defense. It would also prevent players from trying to foul someone in the final minutes of a game, which is a safety issue.

I understand that coaches want to teach players how to run the offense and take their time setting up a good shot, but the players won’t be able to do that in the collegiate level; they’ll be forced to run an offense and shoot the ball before the shot clock expires. Yes, you could argue that most high school basketball players won’t go onto the next level, but isn’t it the job of a coach to get a player ready for the next level, in case they want to continue playing after high school? So why isn’t every coach begging for a shot clock to be used in high school?

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest basketball fan on the planet, but I support my school on Friday nights. It’s still exciting to see players that I know, but when it comes down to it, I get extremely bored watching teams hold onto the ball for extended periods of time. Our team doesn’t do it very often, but others do, and it makes the game seem to drag on. Fans want to see a fast paced game with a lot of points scored. A shot clock would give them both.