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The latest news and analysis on college and pro women's basketball.

October 3, 2010 at 1:51 PM

FIBA considering lowering rim for women’s basketball

MayaHoop.jpgIt was a beautiful sight. Nearly 6,000 mostly Czech Republic fans happily bouncing like the Cameron Crazies despite their country losing 89-69 to Team USA for the FIBA 2010 world championship. The Czechs trailed by just five at halftime, the Americans turning up the defensive pressure to pull away in the second half.
Overall, it was a thrilling gold-medal game to complement the tournament’s great run in Czech Republic. There were surprises in powers Australia, the defending champions, Russia, and Brazil all falling to unexpected opponents — including Czech Republic. The Americans, which automatically qualified to the 2012 Olympics with the win, were clearly better with their depth. But the upsets show the women’s game is improving globally.
So, why would FIBA announce before the medal games on Sunday that it is considering lowering the rims in the women’s game? The reasoning is to “make the sport better, and more appealing to a wider audience.”
Say what? To be frank, this has to be the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard at this point in the women’s game. What needs to happen globally is attention to coaching or maybe more cooperation with the WNBA so that more international stars could play in a league with the world’s best. Then skill would improve and that would draw more appeal globally.
Lowering the rim? For what? A cheap dunk? Please. FIBA should know by now that the game of basketball is more than dunking. A wicked crossover or three-pointer can be just as exciting — especially if in a close game that seals a victory. Just ask any Sue Bird fan.
The discussion, which is one of many tossed around at the first summit hosted by the international governing body, can’t be for shooting percentage or improved skill. The WNBA was horrid shooting-wise in its early years and has steadily improved its scoring percentage. As a viewer, it was players’ attention to their craft, coaching, and natural talent that improved this area, thus making the game more exciting.
More appealing, too, as ESPN reported an increase in its viewership for the WNBA playoff run. That should trickle into more fans for upcoming 2011 season.
“One of the conclusions was that we need to change the rules if we want to make the game a bit more attractive,” said FIBA Secretary General and IOC member Patrick Baumann in a story on the organization’s website. “We have the smaller ball and now it’s time to lower the rim. It will be tested. They will select certain countries and competition where they can test it. The question is, what will come out of the tests. The game as it is is a good game, but we have a large majority of women’s basketball players that don’t have that size and there are questions whether the game is as attractive as it really could be if you were able to play over the basket rather than under the basket.”
Baumann said the women’s game should not be compared to the men’s, therefore opening up possibilities to try new things with an audience that is different than those who watch the NBA or international leagues. I agree that the women’s game shouldn’t be compared to the men’s. But I would say these targeted fans are still tuning in because they like basketball. And that’s a blueprint that shouldn’t be thrown out – unless you’re no longer calling it basketball.
Look, the smaller ball isn’t an obvious deviation from the game, but a lowered rim, as tested and liked in Italy, creates a gimmick. Not a creative “new” way to look at women playing the sport of basketball. Plus, you’d alienate the thousands of fans who’ve already become fans of the traditional game.
Some have already shared their displeasure on Twitter.
.bbpBox26294059768 {background:url(http://a1.twimg.com/profile_background_images/20954576/D1.jpg) #0d15d3;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

@JaydaEvans Lowering the rim? FIBA is trippin. They better not call it Basketball then…less than a minute ago via web


.bbpBox26293082766 {background:url(http://a1.twimg.com/profile_background_images/10668362/wood11.jpg) #1a1d28;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

@JaydaEvans Seriously??? What are the advantages? I can’t think of any other than increasing the possibility of the dunk?less than a minute ago via web


.bbpBox26291983887 {background:url(http://a3.twimg.com/profile_background_images/7890435/NOTEBOOK3.jpg) #1A1B1F;padding:20px;} p.bbpTweet{background:#fff;padding:10px 12px 10px 12px;margin:0;min-height:48px;color:#000;font-size:18px !important;line-height:22px;-moz-border-radius:5px;-webkit-border-radius:5px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata{display:block;width:100%;clear:both;margin-top:8px;padding-top:12px;height:40px;border-top:1px solid #fff;border-top:1px solid #e6e6e6} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author{line-height:19px} p.bbpTweet span.metadata span.author img{float:left;margin:0 7px 0 0px;width:38px;height:38px} p.bbpTweet a:hover{text-decoration:underline}p.bbpTweet span.timestamp{font-size:12px;display:block}

@jaydaevans Did you see #FIBA may lower the rim? http://bit.ly/bdL3k3 Stunningly misguided.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck


WNBA president Donna Orender was among the summit attendees, who represented 50 different countries from five continents. Testing of the lowered rims would take four years, but hopefully she was among the ones opposed to the concept entirely.
After such a wonderful world tournament, I didn’t see one reason involving on-court competition that would make me say lowering the rims would help grow the game. Did you?
*PHOTO CREDIT: American Maya Moore driving to the hoop by Connecticut Post

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