In a well-attended news conference today, a spokesperson for the nation’s preeminent basketball league revealed that the league would begin efforts to remove many of the fouls associated with the game.
“After serious consideration, we have concluded that it is in the league’s best interests to reduce the number of fouls that players can commit during gameplay,” said Jordan Byrd, a spokesperson for the league. “It’s been ages since fouls have been taken seriously by the players anyway,” said Mr. Byrd, referring to the tendency to view fouls in general not as unacceptable behavior but something to be used strategically to accomplish one’s ends.
“The easiest thing to do is just to cut through the whole legal mess and remove the inconvenient rules,” Mr. Byrd continued. “This way, the game isn’t delayed by infinite numbers of penalty shots, and audiences will get to see more of their favorite players, whose play time will no longer be limited by their tendency to ‘foul out.'”
According to the statement, fouls to be removed include traveling, palming, double-dribble, and charging, as well as a number of personal fouls.
Following the presentation, Mr. Byrd waved aside worries that, along with the rules, the move would eliminate some of the safety considerations that drove the establishment of the rules in the first place. “We believe players will take responsibility for their actions,” Mr. Byrd said. “After all, they certainly don’t want to miss any time due to injuries. I’m sure they will carefully evaluate the risks of any particular action.”
Mr. Byrd likewise demurred on suggestions that the sport’s long-held philosophy of fouling as normal behavior might have implications on how basketball players and fans approach real-life questions of morals and ethics. “There’s no reason to suppose people can’t tell the difference between the game and reality,” Mr. Byrd said. “Even if this suggestion were remotely true, the proposed changes should alleviate any worries about spillover effects. After all, with fewer rules, there will be less motivation to manipulate the rules in both basketball and life.”
The new rules will be subject to a period for public comment before going into effect next season.
The move, which Mr. Byrd indicated was supported by players and fans alike, drew immediate criticism from various quarters, including the referrees’ unions. “This move is terrible for the game,” said Lon P. Quaggmeyer, a union representative. “If they start eliminating rules left and right, they may reach the conclusion that they need fewer referees. You can bet that job security will be at the top of the list of negotiations at our next bargaining session.”
“It’s all very well to do what you can to provide an exciting game for fans that pay an awful lot of money to see it, but eliminating the rules like this is, by definition, a game-changer,” said Associate Professor Larry Erving of the University of Punxsutawney’s College of Athletics and Quantum Physics. “Certainly, the games should be more exciting, if riskier for the players. Over the longer term, there will be implications for how the game is played and, in fact, which players are more likely to wind up playing. We will likely see skills like agility and dexterity take backseats to, well, brute force. The end result may look more like a combination of handball and rugby. I suppose it’s up to the league and ultimately the fans to decide if that’s what they really want.”
“I think in the end this move will force participants–players and fans alike–to think very carefully about what they want the game to look like,” said Prof. Erving. “Hopefully they’ll think about it before the end of the public comment period.”