13 Theories to Make Sports More Thrilling: Banning Hack-A-Shaq

Hack-a-Shaq. We hate it. You hate it. The NBA hates it. The problem is that the hack-a-Shaq tactic can be a smart and useful strategy that sometimes helps teams win important games. “Hack-a-Shaq” is typically used by teams who are facing a player who has a low free throw shooting percentage. By fouling that player while their team is in the bonus, it forces the player to take free throws, which he would most likely miss. Fouling like this stops the clock, and often results in only one or zero points for the opposing team. The strategy was given the name Hack-a-Shaq because it was used against Shaquille O’Neal (a dominant Center, but terrible free throw shooter) for the majority of his career.

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Games get boring when Hack-a-Shaq is being deployed. Only one team is having offensive possessions, while the other is just shooting free throws. It’s hard to watch a player shoot five free throws in a row, and it’s even harder to watch a player miss five free throws in a row. Not to mention that this technique adds tens of unnecessary minutes to the game, which can make the last five game minutes end up taking 30 minutes. Along with spectators, the players dislike the Hack-a-Shaq strategy as well. They just want to play the brand of basketball they grew up learning, but sometimes it’s the best option. Even though it’s not sexy and sometimes even referred to as cowardly, right now there isn’t anything substantial in place to discourage teams from using this. And if it continues to work, teams will keep using it.

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The only rule in the NBA that discourages this kind of play is the one that says that if a player is fouled off the ball in the last two minutes of a game, that this player is awarded free throws and their team gets the ball back. This rule is somewhat effective, but coaches are more so using the Hack-a-Shaq strategy in the middle of games as well. There is also the long-standing rule that eliminates NBA players from a game once they record their 6th personal foul. However, nothing about this rule specifically addresses Hack-a-Shaq, and players can always spread their fouls evenly in this regard. While these are arguably steps in the right direction, the league needs to make more changes to stop or at least minimize the use of Hack-a-Shaq.

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There are a few other ways that the league could approach this.

  • First, the NBA could implement the late-game rule they currently have for just a longer period of time (two more minutes?). This isn’t extremely innovative, but would increase the desired effect of the rule that the NBA has in place.
  • Since teams generally foul the same player due to his horrid free throw percentage, a good rule would be if a single player is fouled off ball three times then any additional fouls would result in free throws for that player, and their team would get the ball back. This would allow a few rounds of Hack-a-Shaq, but only three times, then it would stop or the team could begin to “hack” another player. If this rule is implemented, then the two minute rule should be taken away, because that way the team could still use the Hack-a-Shaq technique strategically, and they would be able to foul three times near the end of the game for a few chances to get the ball back.
  • Another more extreme rule that the NBA could use would state that if any off ball foul is committed intentionally, the player fouled gets to take free throws and their team gets the ball back as well. Although this penalty may seem excessive, and might be the most unrealistic, something has to be done about Hack-a-Shaq.

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However, it is unclear whether or not the NBA wants to do anything about the rule. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said that no rules will be changed because the Hack-a-Shaq tactic is mainly used against only a few teams, and only a few players. He has said that there is no point in changing the rules just a few players. Many people disagree with Silver in this regard, and the game would be much more fun and intriguing if one of the outlined rules above was implemented. Even if one of these wouldn’t stop Hack-a-Shaq, but it would be great to limit it to only a few hacks per game, making the strategy much more STRATEGIC.

13 Theories to Make Sports More Thrilling: Changing The MLB Draft

The first round of the 2015 MLB Draft took place on June 8th, and many baseball fans couldn’t have cared less. Some fans noticed because of a tweet or Facebook post made by their favorite team. Others found out it happened thanks to a brief SportsCenter segment. This would never be the case with the immensely popular NBA & NFL drafts. The first installment of Thuuz’s 13 Theories to Make Sports More Thrilling looks at why the MLB Draft isn’t more watched, and how it could be made more exciting!

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In the NFL, players must have been out of high school for three or more years before they are eligible to declare for the NFL Draft. Prior to the Draft, these former college stars participate in the NFL Combine. This is where they can display their athleticism, skills, and knowledge in front of teams’ coaching staffs and management.

In the NBA, players have to be at least one year out of high school before they declare for the Draft. Players that declare are typically college superstars, or have been excelling in a foreign league. Draft picks often make an immediate impact for their teams, seeing as NBA rosters are made up of only 12-15 players.

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The MLB Draft is the most boring draft for fans out of the major professional sports in the United States for a variety of reasons. The first reason is that not many people follow college baseball, or only tune in during the College World Series. Because of this fans don’t know of the top players that their favorite team drafted. Furthermore, fans probably won’t be seeing these players in the MLB for a handful of years anyway. Finally, the MLB draft is held in the middle of the week (June 8th-10th) during both the College World Series and the MLB season. Only diehard baseball fans have the time or attention span to tune in and watch the Draft unfold. However, there are some reasonable changes that could be made to made the Draft more exciting, and comparable to those of the NFL and NBA.

First, the college baseball season overlaps directly with the MLB season. While sports like football and basketball face the same problem, they have a different schedule. There are significantly less college football and basketball games than there are baseball games, the football and basketball schedules don’t get oversaturated. But with the MLB season being 162 games long and the college baseball season spanning several months, there is just too much baseball at one time. Baseball fans love the MLB and wouldn’t want to shorten the season, but there is a simpler solution. Move the college baseball season into the late fall and have it continue with the College World Series into the winter.

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While this would make baseball slightly compete with football, it would provide nice variety for football fans. Baseball fans who don’t follow football would seemingly love this idea too. They would have almost double the amount of time in which they could watch competitive baseball. This would obviously mean more people watching college baseball, which would make fans more knowledgeable, and thus enjoy the Draft more.

Something else that should be addressed is the date of the MLB Draft. Currently it is held from June 8th to June 10th (right in the middle of the MLB season and the College World Series). Barely any fan has enough time to properly digest all of this baseball. When to move it to? All Star Week. Not only would the College World Series be over, but the All Star Week is the perfect breaking point in the MLB season. This shift also would make sense because it would make the MLB more money. There are plenty of nights during the five day span that could use this attention-grabber. Not only would a massive amount of baseball fans watch the Draft, but the top picks could spend the week mingling with the best of the best in the MLB, learning tips and gaining wisdom. This seems like it would be a win-win, and it would definitely make the Draft more exciting!

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Finally, a more drastic measure could be imposed to make the Draft more exciting. One reason people don’t like the MLB Draft is that even the best prospects spend multiple years in the minor leagues before the emerge as superstars at the major professional level. However, if all non-injured first round picks were forced to start at least one game in the MLB in their first year after being drafted, they would assert themselves as young stars in the eyes of the fans. If players were to have to make an immediate impact at the major league level, fans would be a lot more conscious of who their team drafts. This would be a far-fetched, but simple way to make the MLB Draft more exciting!

Overall, while these ideas may never be incorporated into the MLB Draft, the desire for a change is still extremely popular. Both casual and diehard baseball fans understand that the Draft is uninteresting and has a seemingly minuscule effect on their team. The ideas mentioned are just some ways that Thuuz thinks the MLB could improve the Draft, and change this negative sentiment surrounding it. Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Thuuz’s 13 Theories to Make Sports More Thrilling!