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Why high schools should hustle for shot clocks

5…4…3…2…1… Your favorite player flails and launches up a wild three point shot to beat the buzzer. “Why did they do that?,” you might ask. “It wasn’t the end of the game. So, what was that buzzer for?” That, my friend, was the shot clock. The shot clock gives each team a certain number of seconds per possession to shoot the ball or suffer a turnover. It also resets to the designated number of seconds per possession if the ball touches the rim. 

The implementation of the shot clock in high school basketball is a highly debated subject. While the college and professional game has them, high schools have yet to adopt the shot clock as a part of the game. 

Currently only eight states including California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota and Washington make use of the shot clock in high school games. This demonstrates that the argument against the proposed change is persuasive to many people. However, since these states have chosen to allow a shot clock, they have no voice on the National Federation of State High School Associations Basketball Rules.  

Now, let’s talk about the rules. While choosing to utilize a shot clock may prove to be financially challenging and will require schools to staff more personnel to operate the clock, this rule change is absolutely necessary for high school basketball across the nation. Other contentions against the clock include “the game is good as is” and the idea that adding a shot clock takes away valuable strategy from some coaches to slow the ball down to match up with faster, more aggressive opponents. 

But my question is, “Are opponents of shot clock implementation convinced high school coaches are incapable of adjusting to a new rule?” After all, basketball is a game of adjustments. During the game, a coach must be able to switch up the game plan entirely or run different offensive plays against different defenses the opponent may run without prior planning. 

While anti-shot clock proponents claim the strategy change for high school coaches would prove troublesome, the necessity required for strategy changes in high-pressure, in-game situations is something high school coaches already face. Plus, this change wouldn’t be in the moment; coaches would have months to prepare in advance and create strategies. There are an unlimited amount of strategic adjustments teams can make to combat faster, more aggressive teams without leaning on the shot clock as a crutch. 

As far as the argument “the game is good as it is,” I do agree. Basketball is the most beautiful, perfectly poetic, greatest game on the planet. However, the high school game is simply not as great as it could be and would be much improved by adding a shot clock. 

The current no-shot clock rule allows for teams, coaches and players to stall, or refuse to shoot the basketball for minutes on end to waste time so long as they maintain possession and avoid turnovers. This means slower, more boring games where teams essentially end up playing keep away instead of actually playing basketball. While some see stalling as a great strategy, it is disrespectful to the game of basketball. It allows for the winner of a 5 vs. 5 monkey-in-the-middle game the possibility of being the winner of the basketball game, rather than the winner being determined more purely on skill and efficiency, the ability to execute when it matters most. 

Adding a shot clock to the high school game would be one of the most progressive, positive changes the level has seen in years. It would result in teams formulating smarter game plans to combat opponents instead of being able to cop-out and play keep away. It would also result in a cleaner, more entertaining and competitive game overall because players would be required to develop their skills more fully on both ends of the court to win. 

Plain and simple: high school basketball needs the shot clock, and the shot clock needs high school basketball.

Photo by David Ropotusin