by Josh Burkholder – “SportStance” Columnist
In basketball, an offensive foul called “charging” occurs when an offensive player that has possession of the ball runs into or over a defender who has established defensive position. If a referee makes that call, the offensive player is credited with a personal foul and the ball is given to the other team. Coaches are always teaching it to their players in hopes that they will be smart in games and force the other team into a turnover. Playing basketball throughout high school myself, I have been on both the offensive and defensive end of one of these charges.
But the problem with charging is that defensive players are ‘fake-falling’ when an offensive player barely touches them or does not even make contact at all. This is called a flop. The flopper normally gets very dramatic about it; yelling and hitting the floor hard to try to make it obvious. If a ref does not have the right angle on the play, they often come to the wrong conclusion and call a charge on the offensive player. This causes the foul and possession of the ball to be given to the wrong team. Coaches are also teaching this to their players, which is actually smart on their behalf. The way the rule is now, there is no reason for them not to do so, because it gives them an advantage over the other team. I will admit that I flopped a couple times during my high school career; it was just part of the game and everybody did it.
More often than not, however, I was on the other side of this act of flopping. There is nothing more frustrating to an offensive player than getting called for something that you did not commit. It especially hurts players that tend to commit legitimate fouls on the defensive end, because it limits their playing time as there is a specific number of fouls you can commit before getting removed from the game. In my opinion, we need to somehow find a way to eliminate these flops, because the game can be much more enjoyable for fans and players alike if the flop is omitted.
Like most controversial issues, though, there seems to be no clear solution to this problem. It is extremely hard at times for referees to distinguish between reality and acting, because the game is so fast-paced. The National Basketball Association (NBA) has attempted a possible solution, penalizing and fining players for flopping. These punishments will have to be handed out after games, however, because they will be given out be league officials after they have reviewed game tapes. During the game, the flop will still have no consequence. Eventually, though, the NBA believes that the threat of being fined will bring an end to the majority of the flopping.
This is all well and good for the NBA, but what about high school or college? Is a 16-year- old kid going to be fined for something they did in a high school sports game? I think what it all comes down to in the end is the morality of coaches and players. If they want their beloved game to become softer because of offensive players shying away from contact, then so be it. If it is universally decided that flops should not occur any more, the game of basketball will benefit greatly and be much more entertaining for everybody involved.