â†µOr, another way of putting that: You have to know some rules to play the game at all. But then there's the policing stuff, which is meant to restrain basic human impulses and keep things organized. To wit: Traveling is forbidden in basketball, and that's part of what makes basketball basketball. It's not because mankind has an innate desire to run away with the ball. On the other hand, flagrant foul rules exist to keep brute force and violence from overshadowing the actual sport. â†µ
â†µGot that? Good. In light of these considerations, the following quote from Stu Jackson makes absolutely no sense: â†µ
â†µâ‡¥"I look at it as opportunity for us to further educate the players as well as the coaches in terms of what a flagrant foul is. Certainly the league office has consistently communicated to both the competition committee members, as well as the teams, on an ongoing basis as these fouls occur. But if there's still some uncertainty with respect to what is a flagrant foul, what's a suspendable offense and what a hard foul is, then it's incumbent upon us here at the league office to do a better job going forward of educating everyone." â†µâ†µHere's the thing: Although there is some "how much can I get away with" that goes into the physical nature of basketball, knowing what will get you ejected or suspended is not the same as understanding the shot-clock. Presumably, flagrant fouls are cases in which players cross the line, lose control, or otherwise effectively stop playing basketball and cross over to the dark side. Maybe that sounds naive. But remember, these are supposed to be extreme cases. Educating players on flagrants presumes that this would lead to a lower incidence. As in, "change your behavior and everything will be cool." But aren't flagrant fouls supposed to be those rare instances in which a player's no longer being physical, he's actually crossed the line into violence? If so -- and if these cases are about a lack of discipline or focus -- how exactly would education solve the problem? Telling players "don't do that" implies bad habits, and a style of play, not deviant outbursts. â†µ
â†µAll of this is a really long way of saying that Stu Jackson isn't about keeping players in line, but toning down things even further, to the point where formerly accepted elements stuff like hard fouls, wily elbows under the basket, and other things that once made men men on the court, get cut out despite having once had strategic applications. To anyone who follows the league, this hardly comes as a revelation. But when Jackson is so transparent about wanting to change the tenor of, for instance, playoff basketball, he might as well come right out and say it.â†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.