COMMENTARY: It's Time to Ban the 3-Pointer
Charles E. Sutton | 3/14/2014, 3 p.m.
The sports calendar is now firmly entrenched in the month of March. We have the NFL free agency signing period, Major League Baseball spring training, and the NBA stretch run before the playoffs.
Whatever is going on in sports right now, though, pales in comparison to March Madness. The NCAA's 68-team men's basketball tournament, which this year begins March 18 at various venues all across the country, typically filled with shocking upsets, buzzer-beaters and compelling back stories. The dramatic saga runs for about three weeks and dominates the sports scene. They don't call it March Madness for nothing!
But when we watch the March Madness highlights, what we see time and time again are slam dunks and three-point field goals — and it has to stop.
College basketball culture has degenerated from fundamentally-sound team play to one of self-promotion and individuality. Today, there is more emphasis placed on personal form rather than substance, method as opposed to results. Quite frankly, there are some players who would rather have a great individual performance at the expense of a team victory.
Much of this evolution has been fueled by the three-point shot, which started out as a gimmick and, in my opinion, has ultimately damaged the very fabric of the game.
It's safe to say that the three-pointer was not what the inventor of the game, Dr. James Naismith, had in mind. It's a lame attempt by the NCAA to improve a game that needs no improvement. Prior to the implementation of the line in 1986, college hoops offered more than enough drama. We didn't need to add a three-point shot to gin up artificial excitement.
College basketball adding the three-point rule is the equivalent of pouring soda into a glass of fine whiskey. Some may enjoy the taste, but the whiskey purists consider it alcohol blasphemy. Being the college basketball purist that I am, I think the three-point rule is ill-conceived and does the game a major injustice.
Not clear enough? All right, I'll make it plain: the rule stinks! If I could, I'd ban it — immediately.
A team is credited with two points when they score a field goal. A field goal is a field goal. The very thought of scoring an additional point for a field goal, based solely on distance, is ridiculous. Can you imagine a home run being worth two runs because you hit the ball 450 feet instead of 400 feet? How about scoring 8 points for a touchdown pass instead of six because the pass covered 70 yards instead of 50? What if a soccer goal was worth three goals because the kick traveled 40 yards instead of 20?
I know, it's silly. So is the three-point rule.
As our kids grow up, they watch college basketball very closely. The type of basketball that they are witnessing strongly suggests that if you want to be regarded as a good player, you must either produce monster dunks or make three-pointers. The fundamentals of the game, including passing, rebounding and solid defense, are slowly and steadily taking a back seat. This great team sport is gradually becoming an individualized game, where the focus is on crossover dribbling moves and three-point shots, rather than overall team play and ultimate team success.
I've been playing and watching hoops for a long time. It's a beautiful, well-designed game. It had a wonderful 88-year history prior to the implementation of the three-point shot. But rather than enhance this team sport, the three-point rule has done just the opposite. The addition of the rule has meant subtraction for the game. The best and most viable solution is to simply ban the rule.
Give us our game back! Put the emphasis back where it belongs — on team play, executing the fundamentals and team success. There's nothing wrong with adding rules to improve the quality of the game, but it must be a rule that strengthens the sport, not weakens it.
I know there are many of you who really enjoy the three-point shot and the energy and excitement it creates. Well, I'm sure you'll enjoy March Madness. In fact, so will I. No one loves college basketball more than me. That's why I'm so passionate about the three-point shot. So passionate, in fact, I'd like to see it gone!