By Greg Swaim
The final seconds of the 1982 state championship game was ticking away and the team with the ball had a four-point lead with a minute to go. At that point the game was basically over, as the team with the lead and the ball went into a stall and wouldn’t be giving the ball up to the team trailing without a foul.
This is not basketball.
A regular season game in Oklahoma this past season ended up with a final score of 4-2, as the underdog team felt the only way they could compete with a much higher ranked and more talented team was to play keep away.
This is also definitely not basketball.
An article in The Oklahoman this Spring covered the controversial game. “In Oklahoma, high school basketball has never had a shot clock. The two reasons it’s never been put in are money and manpower. If it was mandated, you’d just have to buy clocks and get people that can run the clocks at your ballgames. A lot can happen in a game, even if there were only six total points.”
How do these problems get corrected to keep this great sport from hurting its popularity with boring stalls and a foul shooting contest late in the game, that no one wants to see?
In many other states of the country and overseas they have a shot clock which prevents stalling, which is what fans of the game deserve. However, there is no shot clock in Oklahoma and unless we want to set the game back to the 1950s, there needs to be one…and soon!
The basketball crazy state of Indiana didn’t have a shot clock until the 2020 playoffs had several games that had even the media begging for a shot clock, as the Indianapolis Star called for it. “A shot clock — even a conservative 45-second shot clock (college is 30 seconds) — would have come into play. There would have been eight shot-clock violations in the game, and it would have completely changed the end-of-game situation.”
So why does Oklahoma not have a shot clock and what can be done to expedite the process of getting one on every high school gym?
The reason there is no shot clock in the state is twofold. The largest reason, according to school administrators, is the cost. To have a shot clock, obviously there is an initial cost, then you must train your score table staff how to run it and you also have to have an electrician on hand for every game, should there be a malfunction.
Last year in Oklahoma the OSSAA, the sole governing body of athletics in the state, sent out a questionnaire to every school, which not surprisingly came back in favor of not having a shot clock, while a similar private survey was sent out to basketball coaches, and it was almost unanimous to have shot clock in the state.
Sadly, the OSSAA vote was the only one that counts and why they wouldn’t have sent the survey to coaches instead of administrators? They’re a business and more about the bottom line of saving and making money, but seemingly not the players, coaches or fans. At least their actions speak louder than their words.
Why the difference in votes?
Of course, administrators are thinking mostly about the costs of the clock and how to run and maintain it, while the coaches just want the game improved and played the way that’s exciting for the fans and fun for the players.
Hopefully we will get a shot clock soon in Oklahoma for high school basketball, as every level of college basketball has them and it hurts players chances in Oklahoma of playing college basketball.
Greg Swaim has been the director of Greg Swaim Sports and Swaim Recruiting Services since 1988 and has over a thousand college coaches subscribing nationwide. He hosts the “Greg Swaim Show” daily on multiple radio stations across the country and live on YouTube.