High school basketball fans will be confused by contradictory rules

Rules have been added to high school basketball to decrease physical contact and rough play over the years.

The game is designed to be a contact sport with an emphasis on physical and mental skills.

The dimensions of the court are still the same, but the players are bigger, stronger, quicker and more athletic. Thus, physical contact and rough play have increased. Teams that play the most physical usually have an advantage.

However, what the National Federation of State High School Association rules committee has done for this season is a contradiction as it is adding an article on enforcement of the hands-off rule, but then is allowing more contact on rebounds for free throws.

Instead of continuing to stress hand-checking fouls as merely a priority for game officials, the NFSHSA added an article that says the following acts constitute a foul when committed against a ball handler: placing two hands on the player, placing an extended arm bar on the player, placing and keeping a hand on the player, or contacting the player more than once with the same hand or alternating hands.

Players don’t like to have hands placed on them and it also hinders their ability to do their job. If officials had hands on them while they officiated they would not like it either and it would interfere with doing their job. Physical contact should be decreased thanks to the new addition.

However, another rule has been changed for the third time and it will likely increase physical contact and rough play.

The rule allows players along the marked free throw lane spaces to enter the free throw lane as soon as the foul shooter releases the ball.

Originally, the two offensive and four defensive players could not enter the free throw lane until the ball hit the rim.

The restrictions for the shooter and players not in the marked lane spaces remain the same, they have to wait until the ball hits the rim.

It was changed the first time about 20 years ago.

However, this rule did not last long as it created more physical contact and rough play as the defensive players in the first lane space had to block out their opponents in the middle space for a longer period of time when trying to get and hold their inside position to get a rebound.

It doesn’t make any sense to have one rule emphasizing the reduction of contact and rough play and another changed to allow more contact and rough play.

This is confusing for players, coaches, officials, parents and fans.

There is no logical reason for the NFSHSA rules committee to put this rule back in as it contradicts the comment on the rules reducing contact in the hands-on rule.

Remember, fouls should be called if any offensive or defensive player is put at a disadvantage or gains an advantage by any contact.

There are certainly instances where there is a great deal of physical contact, like two players going for a loose ball and they collide but neither gains an advantage or was put at a disadvantage. So, no foul should be called.

Look for more contact and rough play this season when the players on the free throw lane step into the lane when the ball is released by the foul shooter.

More contact occurs and fewer lane violations are called on the free-throw lane space lines than any other part of the game.

Could it be that this on-the-release rule was changed because it now follows the college rule?

Unfortunately, the college game is becoming more like the NBA and the high school game is becoming more like the college game.