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Basketball fouls and more on flops

by ja on 9/18/2008 12:38:05 AM

I've had friends that just aren't in to basketball explain to me that the reason they aren't into it is because of the fact that it is so hard to tell if something is a legitimate foul or not. One game something is a foul, then the next night it's not. Basketball players eventually learn this, not all fans do.

Basketball is a contact sport, but just like football there are rules about the contact. In football a cornerback cannot grab a receivers arm to keep them from catching the ball. That would give the defender a huge advantage in breaking up plays.

In basketball the definition of a foul is pretty simple:
Any physical contact by one individual that gives them an unfair advantage or puts the other team at an unfair disadvantage is a foul. If the contact does not do atleast one of those two things then it isn’t a foul. I found the following link that is an interesting read regarding basketball and personal fouls.

Here’s a scenerio that can be used to show what goes into the make up of a foul. Imagine a fast break. The guy with the ball is dribbling past the last defender between him and the goal. As the offensive player runs past the defender (still not in the act of shooting) the defender slaps the offensive players non dribbling arm. Is that a foul? Well, it depends. If the offensive player is unaffected, then no, it doesn’t have to be. The defender got no advantage and the offensive player will likely score uncontested. It is contact, but not necessarily a foul.

If the offensive player is negatively affected (bumped off course, loses control of the ball, or something), then that same play would be a foul. That's why someone bumping a little guy like Allen Iverson can be a foul when the same bump against Shaq would not be. A much greater advantage can be gained by whacking AI on the hip when he goes by the by doing the same to Shaq. Shaq wouldn't budge while AI might go tumbling. And by the way, calling the foul in the Shaq instance would be discouraged because you take away "free points" (he would have scored).  

What if the offensive player in our example was in the act of shooting? In that case the answer is going to be Yes. It doesn’t take near as much to cause a shooter to miss a shot as it does to force a runner to run the wrong direction or even to lose signifcant speed for that matter. There's almost no two ways about it. If you touch someone shooting then expect to be called for a foul.

What if the defender poked the offensive player in the eye? That would be a foul. It put the offensive player at a disadvantage.

Now that we know what a foul actually is we can talk about flops. I see a lot of comments as I read various websites about Ginobli flopping when he gets hit and I’m just not sure I agree. Here’s why. When you get fouled (by the definition already discussed) you deserve the call. If you “sell it” then that is not a flop. If I take a shoulder in the chest and get bumped off of my position on the floor then I got fouled. Even if it was a small amount I still got moved off the position I rightfully held. If I move a little further and draw attention to it then I atleast give myself a better to chance to get what I deserve. That’s not a flop. A flop occurs when a player actually does not get fouled but tries to make it look like they were. However, since it is a contact sport I cannot just fall over every time someone "brushes" me as they run by. If a player falls on the floor trying to make it look like a lot more contact occurred (in the case of a brush), then that is a flop. It is a fine line, but one in which the distinction must be made.


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