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What If There Was A World Cup For Basketball?

July 14, 2014

I admire people who can do things I can’t; programmers, engineers, professional athletes. That’s probably why I got excited about the World Cup in Brazil. Otherwise I can’t really explain it. I don’t watch soccer. I don’t even really understand it. Well, I didn’t. Like most Americans I’m now an expert on soccer simply by watching a few games played by guys we’ve never seen nor will again.


I stood outside a bar in the Atlanta airport to watch the second half of the final featuring Germany and Argentina. My plane was boarding before it was over. I had to login and check the score after I got to my hotel in Richmond.; Germany wins it 1-0. I also noticed a headline that said, “LeBron James Says The World Cup Is Bigger Than The NBA Finals.”

Basketball is a game I understand. LeBron’s statement made me think. What would basketball be like if it was played by some of the crazy rules in soccer, or as the rest of the world calls it, football, or as the advertisers have dubbed it, Futball? (I don’t know either. It’s just one more of the things about soccer, I don’t understand.)

Here’s how some of the rules would apply to basketball.

First, goaltending would be totally legal.

Fouls shots would be attempted from the point of the foul and could be defended, so long as the defenders stood ten yards back from the shooter.

For flagrant fouls the referee would wave a colored duct taped card at them and warn them they better not do that again!

The court would be 110 yards long, because 100 yards would be too small.

Each team could only substitute three players per game, unless one of their players suffers a concussion. A scarily regular activity.

One player will wear a different colored uniform and he’ll be allowed to travel with the ball so long as he always stays in the key.

There are NO timeouts.

Instead of four twelve minute quarters, the game will be 96 minutes long divided into two 48 minute halves with a running clock. . .unless the ref decides it should go longer.

Only the ball has to stay in bounds. . .players can go out of bounds as much as they want.

Tripping other players is forbidden, but pushing shoving, grabbing, holding. . .all allowed.

After an hour and a half, the game will end in a 0-0 tie followed by a 15 minute overtime period which will also end in a 0-0 tie, after which teams will take turns shooting half court shots. . .with a goaltender.

When a player does finally score a basket, he will rip his shirt off and lay down on the court for no discernible reason.

Game highlights will be picture after picture of players ALMOST scoring a basket, and then flopping to draw fouls.

Cherry picking will occasionally be called offsides. No one will understand exactly why.

Instead of counting down to zero, the game clock will count up to some number between 90 and 122. No one will know exactly when the game ends except one referee. This will mean that last second game winning shots will be eliminated, but no one will care since they wouldn’t have gone in anyway.

And 3.2 billion people follow it religiously and claim they understand it.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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