High school athletic associations in Iowa and across the nation belong to a national organization that provides rules and guidance for interscholastic sports and activities. The National Federation of State High School Associations is recognized as a leader in providing rules and interpretations that may be followed by the state associations.
State associations, due to their autonomy, generally follow the NFHS guidelines. The reason to do so is to keep as level a playing field across the country, especially when teams compete across state lines.
This year, the emphasis at the middle school, high school and college level has been in regards to illegal contact or contact that impedes a player. The second regards the intentional foul. Below is the point of emphasis the NFHS provided to coaches, officials and players before the season began.
Guidelines to Enforce Illegal Contact —When contact occurs that affects the rhythm, speed, quickness and balance of the player, illegal contact has occurred. When illegal contact occurs, fouls must be called. Officials must not refrain from calling these type of actions that create an advantage for the opponent. Illegal contact must be called regardless of time and score.
Intentional Foul — An intentional foul is a personal or technical foul that may or may not be premeditated and is not based solely on the severity of the act. It is contact that:
• Neutralizes an opponent’s obvious advantageous position.
• Contact on an opponent who is clearly not in the play.
• May be excessive contact.
• Contact that is not necessarily premeditated or based solely on the severity of the act.
This type of foul may be strategic to stop the clock or create a situation that may be tactically done for the team taking action. This foul may be innocent in severity, but without any playing of the ball, it becomes an intentional act such as a player wrapping their arms around an opponent. The act may be excessive in its intensity and force of the action. These actions are all intentional fouls and are to be called as such.
Over the years fans have called for tighter rules regarding hand checking, arm bars and when players dip their shoulders on a drive. However, the interpretation of that depends on which side of the ball the fan is sitting.
If one looks at the statistics from games played in November and December there are huge numbers of fouls and free throws taken. If there was a gripe-o-meter it would be in the red with fans screaming that there are too many fouls called and the games are taking longer.
A check with Quikstats Iowa, a statistical web site used by the schools to record game stats, the fouls and free throws are similar to two years ago. Last season saw fewer fouls and free throws seemingly because official were letting the players have more freedom to move. At least in talking with area coaches, they feel that was the case.
This year it appears fouls were called early in the season and players have begun to adjust.
“Every year the association gives points of emphasis for the officials to follow, most of the times these are rules that the association feels weren’t called well,” said Oskaloosa girls coach Steve Kaisand. “This year they added a few rules in hopes of limiting contact, especially in the post. Early in the season, you could tell the emphasis was in getting hands off as a defender. Over time two main things happened, players learned how to play defense with less contact and officials started letting a little more contact happen again.”
Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont’s Tony Fenton agrees with Kaisand.
“I think early in the year they were calling games tighter than the previous years but lately I feel that the games are not being called as tight,” said Fenton. “Some of the points of emphasis this year are not being called. We have had many games where the offense is pushing off in the post or using hand checking.”
Schools and teams have adapted some to the changes. Blocks and charges remain difficult to call and determine said Oskaloosa boys coach Zach Tremmel.
“The reason fouls are up is very simple, the IAHSAA has made it very clear that any type of hand check is going to be an automatic foul,” said Tremmel. This was made very clear to all coaches at the beginning of year so we have had to adjust our coaching style, because any aggressive defense with any type of hand checking will be a foul.
“As far as blocks and charges I this is the hardest call a ref has to make and it will probably never be a perfect science in making this call.”
Fans, coaches and players have finally had their voices heard, but still not everyone is happy about the outcomes. Basketball continues to evolve and as long as the game is played and humans officiate, there will be these types of issues. Call the game tighter and more fouls and free throws will be a part of the game. Loosen up the calls and more chances of injury may occur.
In beginning to write this column, I heard of a game when two teams from Texas played a game where more than 100 free throws were taken. The bottom line for teams may be to sharpen up on their free throw shooting. But that was part of an earlier column.
Postseason play begins this week. Take time to go out and support your favorite team, player or wrestler.
75 years ago 1939
Ralph Towne of Oskaloosa Schools scored two field goals to lead the teachers past the Ottumwa teachers, 19-17. Oskaloosa held Ottumwa scoreless in the first quarter then held off a fourth quarter rally for the win.
Oskaloosa defeated Newton 26-11 to keep pace in the boy’s basketball race. Jack Feree had eight points, and Gib Edwards added six.
The New Sharon boys upset Fremont 30-22. Louie Smith scored 14 for New Sharon.
50 years ago 1964
Don Cummings scored his only points of the night in the final minute and a half to let the Oskaloosa Indians edge Pella 50-49. The victory snapped an 11-game win streak by the Dutch.
Craig Dickey scored 14 points, and Butch Hewitt and Tom Brandinger each had nine to lead the Oskaloosa sophomores to a 51-31 win over Pella.
Linda Baux and Vicki Gibson led Twin Cedars to a 33-31 victory over Pleasantville. Baux scored 14 while Gibson chipped in 13.
The Hy-Vee bowling team of Jerry Byers, Don Schutjer, Frank McClun, Tom Vroom and Charles Sturm won the city title at Tiger Lanes. Don Connor won the singles crown and Walt Cover and Junior Walker won the doubles crown at Crown Bowl.
Oskaloosa hit 34-for-41 from the free throw line to defeat Boone 66-54. Steve White was 11-of-13 from the charity stripe and finished with 17 points to lead the Indians.
25 years ago 1989
Nicki Baldwin’s free throws down the stretch helped William Penn to a 73-64 win over Central. She had just five points, but was 3-for-3 at the line. Gina Sisk led the Lady Statesmen with 27 points.
Tri-County snagged the South Iowa Cedar League girls basketball crown with a 62-41 win over Sigourney. Shelly Cranston led the way with 25 points and nine assists.
Carrie Vander Sluis scored with 12 seconds left to lift Twin Cedars to a 58-57 win over Pleasantville.
Shawn LaRue found Lance Dahm’s on a pass with four seconds left and Dahm’s basket gave North Mahaska a 64-62 win over Eddyville.
Any views expressed in this column are not necessarily the views of The Oskaloosa Herald