Fix a sport


Robot MMA would be a glorious thing. I want to watch two cyber-gladiators attempt to annihilate each other.


Just give it time. There will be biped Robot Wars before any other kind of battling robots become real ortho-game sports.


Someone call Vince McMahon, judge by his XFL revival he’s willing to piss money on football.



See, ignoring the rest issue, the thing about a free throw is that it’s an uncontested shot, so logically, at least to me, it makes sense for an individual free throw to score fewer points than a regular, contested shot during the normal flow of the game. In addition, with respect to three point shots, the free thrown line is closer than the three point line, so again, it doesn’t seem right that a single shot from there should be worth three points.

Then again, maybe we should make all free throws “one and one,” like you see before you reach a certain limit in college basketball. If you can’t make the first shot, you don’t get a second shot. This should be applied at the pro level as well.

Maybe a simpler and more elegant solution is to have a better definition of a “flagrant foul.” In many cases, a flagrant foul results in the foul shots, plus the fouled team keeping possession. Right now, it’s only applied to essentially tackling a player, but perhaps it can be loosened up, especially in the last few minutes of the game. Part of the rationale for fouling is not just to stop the clock, but to hopefully get the ball back with little to no time lost from the clock. If you don’t get the ball back, well, there goes the motivation to foul as the other team can still gradually wear down the clock and your risk of fouling out increases. This also wouldn’t penalize fouls that happen as part of the normal flow of the game – i.e. a player jumps to attempt to block a shot and due to poor positioning or technique fouls the shooter.

I just find the idea of increasing the value of a free throw to be very distasteful, so I prefer alternate solutions.


I just had a crazy crazy idea. Super crazy. Will never happen, but fun to imagine anyway!

You play basketball. You don’t stop for fouls to rest. You just keep playing. Meanwhile the scorekeepers are counting each and every foul. They have a grand total of how many foul shots each player should be taking. The best part is because they have time to casually video review every foul as the game goes on, the foul calls can be perfectly objective and precise.

Then at the very end of the game we take all the foul shots at once!

First the losing team takes their shots. If they don’t catch up to the winning team before running out of shots, then it’s GG. It’s even possible that they are so far behind they CAN’T catch up, in which case it’s just GG, no shots necessary.

As soon as they do take the lead, then the other team starts shooting. Whichever team is behind takes their remaining shots until they have the lead.

If at any time it becomes mathematically impossible for a team to retake the lead, the game ends. No point in taking the rest of the shots.

If it’s a tie, then you go to OT as normal. Then at the end of OT you have more foul shots!


As long as you stopped play for more serious things like injuries - after all, some dude takes a bad landing and fucks up his ankle, you don’t want everyone stepping all over him trying to complete the play - that sounds like it would at least be an interesting idea.


No offense, but you seem to be missing the point of the idea or “fix.” When players take free-throws, there is a HUGE amount of “dead” time between when the foul is called and when the player takes his first shot. Afterwards, there’s another long stretch between the first shot and the second shot, and the third shot in the case of a foul during a 3-point attempt. Statistically speaking, NBA players make over 75% of their free-throws, and they make the first shot 2-5% more often then their second shot.

It’s not about free-throws being easier than contested shots, or closer to the hoop than a 3-point attempt, it’s about penalizing the defending player for fouling while the offensive player is taking a shot and cutting down on the “dead” time. Additionally, if a player who is fouled in the attempt of a shot gets 2 or 3 points for making the one free-throw, the late game strategy of intentionally fouling is not as much a viable option. This speeds up the pace of the game, makes it more watchable, and with fewer fouls, there are fewer injuries, so NBA players will be on the floor more instead of being injured.

The purpose of the fix is to cut out the dead time of having two free-throws. Only have one shot, have it count as 2/3 points, and you’ll cut out between 10-15 minutes from the game time. The “one and one” solution doesn’t fix this problem at all.


Well, even hockey stops play immediately if someone’s clearly hurt bad enough that they can’t make it to their bench (regardless of the current state of play).

But they do things intelligently. For example, if you’re on the offensive and the defenders commit a violation, the penalty is delayed until your team loses possession of the puck. Then, the penalty immediately takes effect with full force.

There are also nice rules around penalties/violations that interfere with what would otherwise have been a good shot. You could be awarded a penalty shot or even an automatic goal depending on the circumstances.

So play only stops when it needs to.


Only stopping play on defensive fouls only when the fouled team loses possession or advantage is super important. In soccer, a foul that doesn’t lose possession just gets a call of “play on” or “advantage” and the match keeps going, especially if nobody is injured. And if advantage is called, the person acting all hurt on the floor trying to draw a free kick gets up super quick, as if they weren’t hurt at all (which they weren’t, they were signalling to the ref).

In rugby, play will be stopped way after a defensive foul, if at all, and only after it is clear advantage was gained by the defensive team. Sometimes it’s unclear where the ref saw the foul, and you only know when they walk the ball 20m back down the pitch.

In basketball, there has to be incentives put in place to stop intentional defensive fouls late in game which are only committed to stop the clock and gain possession. They have to either not cost zero seconds, not gain possession, or be penalised on the scoreboard to the extent it’s not worth the risk.


My post about only having one free-throw, and having that shot be worth 2 or 3 points respectively, would disincentivize a lot of late game defensive fouls.

Yes, the clock would stop, and yes the fouler’s team would gain possession, but by only having one free-throw, worth as much as the original shot, it makes that option a lot less attractive because the fouled player is much more likely to make that shot and earn the same number of points regardless.


Frankly, I’d prefer a shot clock instead of making these non-contested shots worth the same as a contested shot during the normal flow of the game. There already is one for regular shots, so why not put one in for free throws as well? That’s a better way to cut the amount of dead time.

If this is solely a case of cutting dead time, why even bother with free throws? Why not automatically grant the points to the shooter if fouled in the midst of the shot, just like they do with goaltending violations? That would result in no dead time at all.

You’re also implying that fouls are solely a result of dirty play. While some are, most are a result of legitimate, aggressive play. Penalizing fouling teams that much would dis-incentivize aggressive, but clean play, and would make defense just that much more difficult to play. If you’re worried about automatically giving up 2 points because you’re a half second behind in moving to the left to defend against a driving player, why risk giving up the two points and taking a foul when you can just not bother defending and letting the player through and hope he misses his shot on his (and I’m using male pronouns here since the men’s leagues are the most popular, but this could equally be applied to women’s leagues) own.

One on one would cut down some of the dead time by halving the dead time in cases where the first shot is missed. Add in a shot clock and we can keep that dead time even more controlled.

Frankly, I don’t find the dead time of free throws in the middle of the game to be that much of a problem. It’s mostly the fouling at the end of the game for clock stoppage that I find to be problematic.

Also, keep in mind that teams trying to foul to stop the clock near the end of the game try to go after the worst free throw shooter they can, hence the old “Hack-a-Shaq” strategies and such.

A hockey-like rule where the foul doesn’t come into play until the fouling team gets possession may not be a bad idea either. Much like hockey, if the fouled team scores anyway, no free throws are taken, but the fouling team/player is still charged with the foul. If the fouled player makes the shot in the midst of being fouled, let him take his bonus shot. If he misses and his team gets the rebound and scores anyway, no free throws are taken. If the fouling team gains possession via rebound or some other turnover, then free throws, perhaps with a one and one rule and/or shot clock.


The idea of a shot clock for free-throws is a good idea in cutting down dead time, but doesn’t address the fact that a majority of NBA players make their first free-throw attempt, so it’s pretty superfluous. Also, while I didn’t mention it, the article I linked to above mentions that a lot of people don’t even bother watching the first free-throw attempt, since they assume the player is going to make it anyway. Adding a shot clock would speed up the game, but wouldn’t address the fact that viewers find free-throws, specifically the first free-throw, boring, and statistically speaking, the player is going to make it, so why bother having it?

Imagine it’s a shooting foul, and James Harden is going to the line for two, because there’s always a shooting foul with James Harden going to the line for two. I’m not going to sit there and twiddle my thumbs while he gets the ball from the ref and spins the ball and shoots the ball. It’s almost certainly going in, and if it doesn’t go in, it’s not going to miss in an interesting way. Since there’s no rebound, the only interesting thing that could happen on the first of two free throws is an air ball, and that’s maybe a three-times-a-year occurrence.”

As to your point asking why have free-throws in the first place? Because while the NBA average is pretty high, it’s not automatic, and it does inject some uncertainty into the game and does allow some risk/reward late in the game. Actually, the risk/reward is even greater. Under a one free-throw rule, now it’s all or nothing.

I’m in no way implying that fouls are solely the result of dirty play. I reread my previous posts, and unless I’m missing something, I don’t think I ever did that. But even so, under the proposal I mention, I don’t see how it would disincentivize aggressive clean play because of the risk/reward I mentioned above. If a player misses his free-throw, he doesn’t get a chance for a second one (or third), potentially incentivizing defense more, not less.

Getting rid of free-throws entirely would solve this problem, but is probably too radical a change for basketball, as Kevin Arnovitz argues in his opinion piece:


A one-and-one may improve the “boring” factor of the first free throw, however. As you said, it’s not automatic, but on the rare chance it’s missed, the ball is up for grabs.

If we were to go with the single free-throw route, hypothetically speaking, then I don’t think three point free throws should be taken from the regular free throw line. At least with a two point single free throw, the shot from that spot would be worth two points during the regular flow of the game. With a three point single free throw from the regular line, you’re giving the player not only an uncontested shot, but a shot from significantly closer than where the regular shot would be. I can see a situation where players may try to game the system by purposely attempting to draw falls behind the arc to get the much simpler and shorter three point free throw.

If there is going to be a single free throw per foul, then a three point free throw should be taken from a point behind the arc.


Three point free throw from the three point arc then? Or in the middle between the free throw line and the three point arc?


Anywhere you want as long as it’s beyond the 3 point line.


You have to decide if the penalty shot is harder, so it’s worth more points, or that the initial foul was beyond the three point line, so was worth more points.

If a player is fouled and makes the shot anyway, so they are given a free throw that is worth one extra point, but it was a three point shot, is the extra point from the free throw line or from the three point line?


A foul in basketball is basically punishment for unfair defense. If your shot fails because there were unfair defensive techniques used against you, like wacking you in the arm, you get undefended shots as replacements. The replacement shots should be worth at minimum the same number of points as the shot that was unfairly defended. Otherwise, it creates an incentive to foul. The whole point is to make players want to avoid fouls.


I was talking about fouls outside the 3 point line where the player still gets the shot. As in, the foul doesn’t means the shot fails. Is the free throw (worth one point) shot from the free throw line or outside the three point line?


I say the extra point shot should be from the regular free throw line.