The High School Basketball Shot Clock Debate

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Though calls for a nationwide adoption of a high school shot clock abound, few states have instituted such a rule change.  Without a shot clock, high school basketball crowds are sometimes frustrated by the lack of scoring and excitement that they have come to expect from other leagues and on television.  In 2012, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) decided not to adopt the proposed rule change, but the debate has not ceased.  The “stalling” that some offenses have implemented for years at the end of games is pointed out as one of the reasons to make the change to timed shot periods. Proponents also cite that a shot clock, like what is used in college and the pros, would help the team that is behind and make the game more equitable in the final minutes.

Seven States Already Have A Clock

The NFHS ultimately does let individual state high school basketball associations set their own rules, but only seven states have a shot clock for boys basketball. Those include California, Massachusetts, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and South Dakota, with Washington adding their state to the mix most recently four years ago. Maryland also has a girls basketball shot clock rule in addition to those states mentioned above. Recently, basketball luminaries such as ESPN’s Dick Vitale and former NBA coach John Lucas have called for the adoption of the high school shot clock to both speed up play and increase scoring. Some new research suggests that a shot clock doesn’t actually lead to more scoring in high school ball.

What The Studies Show…

Over at the MaxPreps website, they examined 137,000 basketball scores and found that scoring on average is higher in states without the shot clock than with (104 combined points to 101 combined points), indicating that the notion of less entertainment and scoring without a shot clock was bogus.  In Minnesota, which MaxPreps found to be the state with the highest scoring average, they play two 18-minute halves in high school basketball, instead of the four 8-minute quarters most of the nation uses. This may be why their point average is higher, and fans seem to enjoy the game more in that state.  Without the two added places to waste time at the end of a period and attempt a last shot, the two-half approach seems to be a decent way to increase excitement and scoring.  Of course, having a shot clock does cost more, both in personnel time, installation and training the players to adhere to it. Many small schools just don’t have the budget to install a pair of timer clocks that can cost them thousands of dollars and requires a trained staff to run them.

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