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Just make the call … please

Remember when you were a kid with lots of time and even more energy? Those were the days alright.

I remember being with a group of friends, coming up with cool new games. Most of the time, they had complex rules that we made up as we went.



One of the best games we came up with was a kind of X-croquet. There were obstacles, weird angles and strange twists that were never anticipated. Did you know that you could hit a croquet ball out of a pool?




The thing about the rules was that they were flexible and we changed them at will.

But then we got older and discovered the world of organized sports.

The rules were set, but – man-oh-man – we loved organized sports. My game was baseball, but I had friends that fell under the spell of football and basketball.

These days, I’m probably more of a basketball fan than anything else.

What I’m not a fan of is the way the rules get bent, or completely ignored. It goes against my upbringing.

Look at the NBA.

Last week Mark Cuban was fined half a million for saying something bad about the officiating. He broke an NBA rule, so I can’t argue about the fine. But the thing is – he’s right.

The officiating is spotty at best and downright terrible on some occasions.

Look at the lowly traveling call.

When is the last time you remember seeing that call being made? I’m guessing it’s been a while. Somewhere along the line, it became a non-call. The NBA apparently decided to just not bother with whistling such a lowly call.

Thus the infamous NBA hop. Everyone’s doing it. The short hop in the air before the drive to the hoop. Hop, drive, hop, drive. Hop, drive.

Drives me nuts.

It’s bad enough that the game has been reduced to clearing out a side and letting the star of the team create something. What happened to actual plays?

Some teams still have them – if you want to call the pick and roll, or just passing into the post plays.

But to toss out some of the basic rules of the game just doesn’t seem too grown up.

The bad thing is that there has been a trickle down through the college game and into the prep ranks.

Guys see the pros take an extra step and start doing it themselves. They usually get called for it too.

Several coaches I know have pointed it out. They were getting tired of the bewildered look from players when the whistle blew.

“What did I do coach?”

Well guys, you took an extra step. I hope they keep the whistle blowing. It’s part of the game and it needs to be called.

If the rule needs to be changed – change it. Don’t just ignore it.

Shawn Swillinger is the sports editor at The Union. He can be reached at 477-4240, or by email at


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