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Coach Wachter Declares That With Uniform Regulations Game Could Become Most Interesting of Our Indoor Pastimes

By University BASKETBALL Coach. and Edward Wachter, (Special Article for the Crimson)s

This is the first of a series of articles which will be published by the Crimson written by University coaches on the problems and various aspects of their respective sports.

It is my intention to write regarding some of the irregularities that exist in the basketball game in various parts of the country and also regarding the ways the conduct of the game could be improved because I believe that with the proper rules and regulations basketball can be made one of the most healthful and interesting of our indoor pastimes.

There is a lack of uniformity in the rules governing the game and the conditions under which it is played, all because various persons who might be termed pioneers in the game did not exactly grasp the idea of the man who conceived it.

Basketball, as a national indoor sport, is not more than 25 years old. 'Students of the game generally regard Professor James Naismith as the father of the game. He was a professor at the Spring field Young Men's Christian Association Training College at the time. His idea was to create some sort of a game for indoors that would correspond with football, but with the rougher elements of the great college game eliminated.

Many Different Adaptations

Professor Naismith called upon the students for suggestions and diagram of their ideas and from these he finally conceived the general idea of the present basketball game. Professor Naismith was greatly pleased when he saw his new game constantly growing in favor, but he was rather surprised at the various methods employed in different parts of the country and by different teams.

Now as to how basketball differs from other sports. Baseball is baseball whether it be played at Kalamazoo, Mich., Cuba, Japan, the Philippines or any other part of the world. There is only one set of rules governing the game and the elementary rules of baseball are generally well known by the small boy before he gets very far into arithmetic, grammar or geography. And, I might say, the same conditions surround football, track athletics, tennis, rowing, golf and practically every other sport. But basketball is different, and it is the lack of uniformity in the rules that has prevented the sport from growing into a greater and more popular game than it is today. The one thing that is uniform in the game, and perhaps the only thing, is the scoring, it being universally observed that a basket from the floor shall count two points and a throw from the foul line one.

The rules as to fouls are varied. The A. A. U. rules, which govern intercollegiate games, differ from those used in professional leagues in that the one-hand dribble is mandatory in one and not in the other. Then there are some differences in the rules among the professional leagues and in this connection I might cite an instance regarding the throwing of free baskets from the foul line as practiced in the old New York State League and the Eastern League of Pennsylvania. In the New York State League it was provided that the man who was fouled should make the free throw, while in the Eastern League one man did all the shooting from the foul line.

The difference in the two rules might not mean much to the average person, but the importance of it was clearly brought out in a series between the Troy team of the New York State League and the Reading team of the Eastern League for the championship of the world. There was no way in which the two teams could be brought together under one set of rules, so it was agreed to play the first two games at Reading under the rules of the Eastern League and the next two at Troy under the New York League rules. The Pennsylvania rules were more strict relative to fouls and because of this the Troy team suffered the greater handicap. The first two games at Reading resulted in easy victories for the home team because of the numerous fouls called upon the Troy players and the wonderful shooting from the foul line of the Reading captain.

Series Under Different Rules

The two games played at Troy under the New York State League rules resulted in just as easy victories for the Trojans. The deciding game was played at Reading, the arrangement calling for one half to be played under the rules of each league. The home team elected to play the first half under the New York State rules and the Troy team ran up a fair-sized lead. Then the second half under the Eastern League rules and with their own referee officiating resulted in the Reading team gradually overcoming the lead of the Trojans, and winning by a margin of two points.

As an illustration of the rule I might say that in the first half the New York State referee called something like a total of twenty or twenty-one fouls, while in the second half the Eastern League official called twenty-three on Troy and seventeen on Reading, a total of forty, or an average of two fouls a minute. On the total number of points for the five games the Troy team had a big advantage, gained by the large number of baskets scored from the floor and upon which the game was originally intended to be decided rather than upon fouls. The foul is meant in the game as a punishment for a violation of the rules and was never meant to be a deciding factor in the result of games.

Differences Between College and Pro.

Then again you have other conditions to meet. They bear upon the difference between the college games and professional in regard to baskets. All college games are played with wooden back boards behind the baskets, whereas one professional league would have glass backs located twelve inches behind the basket while in the college games wooden boards are only six inches behind the basket. Such differences should be eradicated in order to bring about a more uniform standard of play.

Refereeing is a very difficult problem to contend with. How many officials interpret the rules alike? No two in my mind. Some are very lenient, others very strict. I may say the officiating is very unsatisfactory as the players cannot tell just how to play. All this has a tendency to retard the progress of the game as a national indoor pastime. There is no reason why basketball should not be as popular with the youth of our nation in the fall and winter months as baseball is in the summer. There is no question about its attractiveness and its tendency to develop both the physical and moral sides of the young man.

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