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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Basketball or "Stall Ball"?

March 5, 2016

To:  Wisconsin State Basketball Coaches and the WIAA
Re:  Basketball or “Stall Ball”?

Dear Coaches and Board Members,

I sat through a painful 36-minute “stall ball” game last night.  Even before the end of the blisteringly boring excuse for a game (and while we led by 4 points) I was drafting this letter in my head.  The nauseated feeling that began in the first five minutes of play never went away.  For me, this isn’t about winning and losing.  For the coaches, apparently, that is all it is about.

As for basketball, I am not new to the game.  I played high school basketball in MN, played on a European women’s team while I was an exchange student, and played one year of division 2 college basketball before transferring to a division 1 school where I knew I could not (and did not care to try to) compete.  I stayed involved in athletics by officiating intramural games; and I married an athlete who played high school football, basketball, and baseball and has officiated at upper levels of competition.  We have eleven children; and, our ninth child and seventh son is a now high school athlete.  I have been watching my kids play baseball, soccer, softball, football, and basketball for twenty-two years.  Besides all of the regular season games, I’ve watched them play in all-star games, AAU games, state east-west games,a MN-WI border battle, state tournaments, college football games, and college basketball games.  I estimate that I have sat through at least 1600 games.

In twenty-two years and 1600+ games I have seen only ONE team end the season with a win.  Only ONE team made it to the final championship game and took home the trophy.  That’s only one in almost 200 teams’ seasons, less than 0.5% success.  Learn a lesson coaches, it isn’t just about winning.  If it is, you are a collective group of ultimate failures. 

I haven’t encouraged my kids to play sports so they can “win”.  I’ve encouraged them to play because they enjoy it and to learn very valuable life lessons.  I believe kids should walk away from an athletic experience knowing more about hard work, cooperation, teamwork, handling pressure, submitting to leadership, letting others down, and knowing how to deal with those who’ve let them down.  I believe they should learn the benefits of dedication, giving it everything they have, improving their work ethic, and doing all they can as a team to do to those things together.  I believe these lessons take them into job situations, marriages, families, and community positions better equipped to be leaders. 

I want my kids to be leaders, but not without integrity.  Leadership without integrity is what most people call “politics”.  What we all despise about “politics” is the blatant maneuvering to position oneself for personal gain and victory.  We link it with a lack of integrity.
 
That’s what I feel is happening with high school basketball.  We were witness to this kind of basketball three times this season.  Sitting and watching a team hold the ball for 7 straight minutes is not a game.  Watching a team dribble in circles and pass for minutes on end, waiting to draw a foul, is frustratingly pointless for players and fans alike.  But the fact that it’s frustrating for the fans is not a reason to change strategies.  Three real reasons to stop engaging in the “stall ball” stategy are:  1) it violates the integrity of the game,  2) it undermines real sportmanship, and  3) the reason for competing in a team sport in the first place is seriously violated by such behavior.  This kind of basketball is the making of a sports blooper segment, not an athletic event.

Coaches, when it comes to your “stall ball”, even the players hate it.  They want to play.  They joined the team because they like to play.  I hear first hand what is said by our team’s players and by the opposition.  They hate it.  We’ve taught them too well to respect authority and do what you tell them to do.  They do it because you make them do it; but, THEY HATE IT.  Ask them, I’m sure you’ll find that the vast majority don’t mind losing as much as they  mind not playing

As a parent, one of the most frustrating things I’ve had to do is create what seem like obvious rules.  (I’m guessing that the WIAA committees feel the same way.) I wrongly thought that basic, overriding principles of life would be enough to direct my children.   Then they got old enough to bend the rules, push the boundaries, and come to me saying, “But you didn’t say not to…”  And so the need for specific rules and precise language arose.  I would prefer that my kids exercise personal discretion and integrity to do what is right.  As much as possible, I still challenge them to make mature and honest choices without a defined list of rules.  When it comes to basketball we’ve had sons share with us how, in games, they tried to ‘get into players heads’ to mess them up, “accidentally” tap a ball away before inbounding to take time off the clock, or quietly taunt someone to anger them and get them to retaliate and foul.  We have heartily denounced those behaviors.  Whether they’re legal or just something they can get away with doesn’t matter, it’s bad sportsmanship and lacks integrity.

We want this generation to grow up and make society better, not more self-serving.  While “stall ball” is within the rules of Wisconsin high school basketball, everyone who has had to pay $4, maybe drive 1-2 hours (or more) and then sit through what doesn’t even resemble the game that drives the kids to want to play in the first place, knows first hand that the integrity of the game, and high school athletcs, has been violated. 

It’s true, “No one said you can’t do that.” But they should. Shame on all of you.  (After some consideration, I feel that this was in inappropriate comment.  I apologize.)

Sincerely,


Cindy White

Added Note:
Please understand, this is not simply about one game, one team, or one coach.  I wrote most of this letter a month ago following another frustrating stall ball game.  I wish we had stalled and lost so that you would know this is not sour grapes!

Here is an excerpt from a comment that may help express the purpose of this letter:
The debate about this is not new, a shot clock was first implemented in professional basketball in 1954 and the NCAA came on board in the mid 1980s. Everyone understands that 36 minutes of stalling is not basketball. The high schools have been reluctant to go to the shot clock because of the costs, training, and management and because it could potentially hurt younger players who need more time to implement the basic fundamentals of the game. 

The National Federation of High School Association, on its website states, "Currently, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington, New York, California, North Dakota and South Dakota utilize the shot clock for either boys or girls or both. Since there currently is no allowance for a shot clock under NFHS rules, these states forfeit opportunity for service on the Basketball Rules Committee."

Unless the NFHS changes the rules, I believe its time for Wisconsin to join those eight states and use the shot clock. You can have your 1980s basketball. I"m ready to move forward.

51 comments:

Jacki said...

Well said. Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain,but you do not know what the players on the stall ball side felt.They might have agreed just so they can win.As a coach you have to know how to adjust and kids has to be coached up to be disciplined.Greenwood did it in the 87 88 season and won state,the teem they played put on a press and tight man to man so it was a little more of a game. Sorry I disagree it's basketball.

Keithslady said...

But, Anonymous, I do know how the players on the stall ball side felt. The admitted to the opponents, during the game, that they were embarrassed. Several players were overheard apologizing to the opposing school's administrators. The debate about this is not new, a shot clock was first implemented in professional basketball in 1954 and the NCAA came on board in the mid 1980s. Everyone understands that 36 minutes of stalling is not basketball. The high schools have been reluctant to go to the shot clock because of the costs, training, and management and because it could potentially hurt younger players who need more time to implement the basic fundamentals of the game.

The National Federation of High School Association, on its website states, "Currently, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, Washington, New York, California, North Dakota and South Dakota utilize the shot clock for either boys or girls or both. Since there currently is no allowance for a shot clock under NFHS rules, these states forfeit opportunity for service on the Basketball Rules Committee."

Unless the NFHS changes the rules, I believe its time for Wisconsin to join those eight states and use the shot clock. You can have your 1980s basketball. I"m ready to move forward.

RHS Bball Alumni said...

Your letter says it all & I agree with you 100%. That was the most pathetic basketball game I have ever attended and I was totally embarrassed and sad for the players, especially for the seniors on the team who were playing their last game at RHS. It's one thing to play their hearts out and come up on the losing end of the game but at least then they know they tried their best. To not even be allowed to play the game is selfish on the coaches part and a disgrace to high school sports.

Phil Prott said...

First off!! Great article!! Could not have been said any better!! I too played sports and truly love the game of basketball and have four children who play competitive sports for the reason of developing life's lessons and skills to carry with them for their entire life!! Yes,the competitiveness of any sports teaches and brings out the best in sportsmanship! When I looked at the score of the game 14-11 The first thought that came to mind was that someone forfeited the game was rained out(leaking roof) power loss anything but a "RUINED GAME OF BASKETBALL DUE TO STALLING TACTICS"
The coach (if you can call him that) should be fired and ultimately justice will be served in the next round as they will be completely embarrassed by their next opponent 0-2.
Poor character subjecting "EVERYONE" to bad judgment!!

Anonymous said...

I would like to respectfully say, that the Antigo team and coaches were all 110% percent on the plan. Players were presented with this strategy and it won with unanimous vote. So for everyone saying the players admitted they were embarrassed, I would like to inform you that they had nothing to be embarrassed of. They played with in the limits of the game to achieve one ultimate goal. As for respect, I have a large amount of respect for Hodag players as well as coaches. I also truley believe that and will continue to think that Hodag players have as much respect for Antigo players as Antigo players have for them.

Anonymous said...

From an inside source, I'd like to say with a great amount of assurance, that the team and coaches were all on the same page completely, agreeing that this was the game plan that would lead them to success. Since were talking about success and life goals, isn't striving to win, and doing whatever it takes to be SUCCESSFUL, a crucial lesson to learn as young men? I believe that fans and parents emotions are getting in the way of what really matters in sports; being competitive and learning life lessons. And of course having fun. I promise all of you that every single one of those players on Antigo, who played the whole game, or didn't play at all, will remember that for the rest of their lives. Antigo did what they had to do to be SUCCESSFUL, and that's a life lesson all players learn on the basketball team. It was one heck of a game in my opinion, and had the weak points and strong points, like all games. But antigo achieved the one goal they have going into every game. To be successful.

Keithslady said...

That team lost tonight 75-41. I think they were a little rusty. I feel bad for the players. My son told me that 4 of the 5 starters were upset and humiliated by last nights game strateg .

KL said...

Ah yes...let's teach kids to be successful at all costs. The cost of sportsmanship, respect, intelligence, and humanity. Just like Donald Trump. Way to go!

Keithslady said...

I completely agree on the respect account, but if players were all 100% on board they are singing different tunes to different audiences.

Keithslady said...

While i do not question your confidence in your sources, as I said previously, if those players were all 100% on board with that strategy then at least four of them have contradicted that fact.

Keithslady said...

While i do not question your confidence in your sources, as I said previously, if those players were all 100% on board with that strategy then at least four of them have contradicted that fact.

Anonymous said...

Just curious. What was the issue with sportsmanship?

Keithslady said...

Thank you for asking, "Sportsmanship is defined as ethical, appropriate, polite and fair behavior while participating in a game or athletic event."

I have conceded that this strategy is within the rules of the game. I have also pointed out that there is major opposition to it, leading to rule changes at all upper levels and in eight states. Some states polls have shown 67% of high school coaches support a shot clock. None of the eight states that have gone to the shot clock have noted any regrets.

Why? Because playing by not playing borders the unethical, inappropriate, and unfair, hence, "unsportsmanlike". I do not call a coach or a team "unsportsmanlike" for implementing the legal strategy. I reserve the accusation for the strategy itself and am asking coaches to take the higher ground until the rules are changed to support the true spirit of the game.

Anonymous said...

If anyone violated "sportsmanship" it was the many RHS parents, who acted like pathetic, ignorant, sore losers. In any game there is a winner and a loser. What's next, taking that rule away? You can say whatever you want to say about stall ball. But anyone with a halfway decent basketball IQ would say it was a magnificent idea and gameplan by Coach Jesse Shaw, and brilliant execution by the Antigo players. I think if anything should be revised of this game, it should be the immaturity and the unsportsmanlike ignorance of the many butt hurt RHS parents.

Anonymous said...

Going into a game with a plan for success is a priceless life lesson that everyone should learn. Nothing about stall ball is unsportsmanlike. Rhinelander could've approached this tactic with a array of many difference strategies of their own. But they didn't. Rhinelander got outcoached and overall outplayed. So for the stall ball tactic, I support any team using it as a strategy to win the game. And for any absurd reason the WIAA outlaws this very strategic tactic, then all I can say is the game of basketball is being tarnished by teams being outplayed by strategy and not talent

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The original plan was to hold the ball to force the Rhinelander team to play man defense. It was there choice letting Antigo hold the ball for so long. They simply didn't play defense they got outplayed. It could've been a more exciting game if they came out of their stubborn 3-2 zone and played man which was intended by Antigo

Anonymous said...

No one has contradicted anything. These four players you hear about are simply just what people would say are not real or gossip or rumors per say. If any player disagreed with it, it wouldn't have been used.

Anonymous said...

Cindy White, I heard that you were urging the Rhinelander players not to shake hands with the Antigo team? And you preach about sportsmanship? The players played the game and if you watched closely they were smiling and coexisting, even talking during the dull moments, and having fun playing the game they love. That's what sportsmanship is. Not setting a poor example of not shaking hands with an opponent. I'm sorry to say but you are a 10/10 grade A hypocrite.

Anonymous said...

*you or another mother of a player. Still hypocritical on your part to blog about sportsmanship, when clearly Rhinelander has none.

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, your son is wrong. Antigo came to win, and they left with a win and a lifelong memory. Can't you Rhinelander fans take a loss? And give Antigo the respect they deserve. They defied the odds and beat a team with more talent by using all the talent they had and applying it to a totally LEGAL and widely accepted gameplan to win the game. I think it is unacceptable for these parents and fans to be pouting like kids over a game that is well over with and just because the outcome wasn't what you expected.

Unknown said...

They were not playing the game. They were standing there and holding onto a ball. Don't kid yourself. They didn't play basketball. They exploited the rules of the game.

Unknown said...

They were not playing the game. They were standing there and holding onto a ball. Don't kid yourself. They didn't play basketball. They exploited the rules of the game.

Keithslady said...

For the record, I did not encourage our players not to shake hands. I denounce anyone who did. Second, I don't mind losing, at al . Every year I'm almost relieved when the season ends (ask my family). And third, my point is not to call out any one coach or team. I like the Antigo team. I make references to three games I witnessed this season with four coaches on the floor. I appeal to all coaches and the WIAA to take away that strategy. Just like we took away running a jump ball on every tied up possession. It wasn't good for the game as a whole.

Keithslady said...

For the record, I did not encourage our players not to shake hands. I denounce anyone who did. Second, I don't mind losing, at al . Every year I'm almost relieved when the season ends (ask my family). And third, my point is not to call out any one coach or team. I like the Antigo team. I make references to three games I witnessed this season with four coaches on the floor. I appeal to all coaches and the WIAA to take away that strategy. Just like we took away running a jump ball on every tied up possession. It wasn't good for the game as a whole.

Anonymous said...

If the rules were "exploited" why did the game continue? They played within the rules of the game and did what was necessary to achieve the ultimate goal.

Anonymous said...

Like Cindy I have taken a lot of time considering the facts and the comments of others before making my own. First I would like to congratulate the Rhinelander Hodag basketball players and coaches on a successful season and winning the Great Northern Conference. The Hodag basketball team has always provided a tough opponent for Antigo in most sports which has led to a good rivalry between the schools. While the game plan used by Antigo was non-typical it was, as noted by others, legal under WIAA rules. Many have commented on sportsmanship at the event, and as a fan I saw some awesome examples from both teams players and coaches. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for the Rhinelander parents. The profanity laced tirades by the parents was disgraceful, not to mention the physical assault not once but twice on the Antigo coaching staff. There was one very shining example of sportsmanship that I would like to highlight before I step back for the retaliatory comments that I know will be coming shortly. I watched a Rhinelander player walk up to coach Shaw and have a very positive conversation in regards to the game plan and the strategy overall. After this conversation a father of this same player also had a conversation with coach Shaw that was far from appropriate for the setting and highly unexpected. This conversation prompted that player to again approach coach Shaw and apologize for his fathers action, if this is not a sign of good sportsmanship I don't know what is. What a shining moment and stark contrast between the Hodag players/staff and the Hodag parents/fans.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to present the Anonymous above with a quick comment aND question. First of all, as a student who was in the RHS Student Section, nothing was thrown at the bench or the players. I'm pretty sure that's something that more people would have noticed if it was true. Secondly, did you notice the Antigo fan (I'd call him a gentleman if he was one) who, right as the game finished, jumped down from the bleachers, went onto the court, and flipped off the RHS Student Section before getting forcefully removed from the court because of his disrespectful actions? Because I know I did.

Anonymous said...

He was removed from the court because he wasn't a player/coach there was no middle finger watch the film before you start false accusations

Anonymous said...

And if you or Cindy didn't, someone did. Back to the the film of the game there was a lady that came up to the teams as they were shaking hands and everyone heard what she was saying and it was pathetic. There was another lady on the way to the locker room who repeatedly swore at the kids and told them they did not win. What a way to represent Rhinelander.

Anonymous said...

If you can't accept stall ball as "playing the game" then what about fouling to make the team shoot? Two different strategies but why is one of them not accepted?

Anonymous said...

There was an orange cap thrown onto the court towards the Antigo bench. Weird it came from the students direction. It wasn't made into a big deal because your athletic director was overwhelmed with the pathetic childish acts of the rhinelanders parents. Flipping off kids cussing them out one parent coming behind our bench and talking to our coach. The athletic director didn't do his job.

Keithslady said...

I am not condoning bad behavior. I don't doubt it happened, I don't support it. I remained in my seat until the stands cleared somewhat and then talked to my son. I'm sorry about those who chose a low path to express their feelings.

"What about fouling to make a team shoot?" If it was uncontrolled I would have a problem with it. It's not. After 5 fouls a player must leave the game. After 10 team fouls the fouled player gets 2 shots. After a blatant, intentional foul (which I feel is not called often enough) the team retains control of the ball following the free throws.

I don't deny that slowing a game down is a valid tactical strategy. I'm suggesting putting a limit on how long that can continue (ie shot clock).

Anonymous said...

After being guarded for 5 seconds the offensive player must dribble. Same thing? They didn't pressure the ball and that's why they lost. They didn't make them take care of the ball as much as they should have. Look at it anyway you'd like there is many different things they could've done to counter them holding it. So stall ball is not uncontrolled. Hodags could've picked up and forced Antigo to dribble but they didn't. Once again, hodags were outcoached and outplayed.

Anonymous said...

You should be crediting Antigo's fundamentally sound ballhandling, and being able to take care of the ball for that long without turning it over when Hodags did pressure.

Anonymous said...

We were not out coached. In the first half there was foul trouble hence the lack of pressure. In the second half we did pressure... And it worked, we took a 9-5 lead and it was at that point that Arndt decided not to miss shots and they took the lead. Wasn't a matter of being out coached, just a player making tough shoots and Rhinelander not being able to respond on the offensive end.

Unknown said...

I will start out first and foremost by saying I have known Cindy White for years and I have seen her personally reprimand any of her children if they were disrespectful to a coach or player. That conduct is NOT TOLERATEDISCONTINUED in that family and I know there won't be one forthcoming but Cindy deserves an apology for that negative comment.
Next I was approached PERSONALLY by a Antigo player who knows our family and he WAS NOT on board with this plan. His exact words were I am embarrassed but our Coach told us we had to.
Next although I did not see any negative actions as are mentioned let's be real people there was trash talking and actions on both sides. None of which I was or am in favor of.
I was sick over that game period. Antigo did stay within the rules but let's look were it got both teams.
Harsh criticism. Players on both sides that were not allowed to play the game. Another situation where our kids learned that it is okay to 'take advantage' of the rules just not break them. That winning is the only thing that matters no matter how you get there or who you take advantage of in the process. (Mind u out I want my kids to win and succeed)
I could go on and am more than willing if anyone really thinks I'm wrong. The bottom line is that fiasco Friday night was disrespectful to the game and to the athletes.Last thing Rhinelander did not get out coached. He got 'out played' because he has taught his players that to get a win it needs to earned. Antigo didn't play they stood there.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Also there was nobody arrested on Friday night from the game but a gentleman from Antigo did indeed give the finger to our student section and was escorted out by Mr. Paulson. Not saying people weren't being disrespectful, I didn't hear or see any of it, but just want to try to clear up rumors before they get out of hand.

Anonymous said...

From where I was seated it looked like both teams stood there?

Keithslady said...

Yes, there was a middle finger, one on each hand. It's on the film.

Anonymous said...

Not surprised

Keithslady said...

I apologize for deleting your post and invite you to resubmit it without the description of the man in the stands. I have followed up with him, his wife, and two others sitting behind him. You, unintentionally I'm sure, misrepresented part of the situation to the extent that I felt it to be a defamation of character.

Keithslady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keithslady said...

Yes, there was a middle finger, one on each hand. It's on the film.

Anonymous said...

Then they were outplayed. They were outcoached too. They didn't react to the strategy that Antigo presented. That is being outcoached and being outplayed by Arndt hitting clutch shots not tough but clutch.

Anonymous said...

No thank you, and I appreciate your kindness, misrepresentation? I'll take my chances, I can ask four people as well, it was after all the antigo student seating area, I can ask ten if you'd like, and we'd be in a stalemate, sorry you feel that way, no defamation intended, I'm sure he is a nice man, just pointing out that integrity can be lost as quickly as it is gained. I share many of your same doctrines. And it seemed that there might have been more breaches of integrity in that gym than just what was going on on the court and the letter author might like to know. God bless

Mark Roberts said...

I played in one stall ball game during my high school years and it was embarrassing. The final score 2 to 1. Has a team we felt we could beat our opponent, however our coach did not.
He did say after the game we would not stall again, we as players were thankful for that. After watching this game, I believe its time to have a 40 second shot clock, this would be a plus for the game, and prepare the players for college ball if they have the skill sets to move to the next level.

Has a fan I love the excitement of High School Basketball especially the tournaments, this game was not exciting, it was not fun, it was pathetic and sad to watch.

Mark Roberts

Keithslady said...

Thanks, Mark, I appreciate your perspective.

Mark Roberts said...

Your welcome, I like your blog, the topic was very good, and you respond with much more grace then I would.

Have a nice day and a great weekend.