Sideline Slants

My agent, I.M. Slick, stopped by the other day and shared an interesting and radical perspective on the future of basketball.

Slick: Let me be the first to predict that the recent presidential election will forever change how basketball is played.

Joe: Huh?

Slick: Watch and see. We were heading in this direction anyway, but the presidential election just confirms my belief that lawyers will love the game of the future.

Joe: Slow down a little. I don’t get the connection to the presidential election.

Slick: Pick a game, any game, and I’ll explain.

Joe: OK, Marion versus Hillsboro.

Slick: Here’s how I envision a game in 2007. The two schools play a basketball game. Hillsboro wins by 10 points. But hold the phone. The Marion coach says the officials missed a call with two minutes left in the first quarter.

Joe: That’s not surprising.

Slick: I know, but under the new rules, an impartial three-person panel determines if the call was missed. In this case they agree with the challenge and say the game must be replayed.

Joe: The entire game?

Slick: No. The game resumes with two minutes left in the first quarter and the score reverts to what it was at that time. Let’s say Hillsboro wins the rematch, but now the margin is seven points. This time there’s a discrepancy in the score. The new scorebook, which requires the scorer to poke out holes every time a point is scored, doesn’t match the score on the scoreboard.

There are several swinging chads and a couple of hanging chads. An impartial panel examines the chads, recounts the score and says that Hillsboro only won by four points.

Joe: So the game is over right?

Slick: Au contraire. By a 2-1 vote, an independent panel of two Marion residents and one Hillsboro resident rules that if the scoreboard had reflected the score accurately during the game, the outcome might have been different. So the game is replayed.

Joe: Terrific.

Slick: Hillsboro wins again, this time by three points.

Joe: Let me guess. There’s another protest.

Slick: Of course, but that’s the beauty of the system. There’s always hope. You never have to accept defeat.

This time a Marion player says he missed a shot that he intended to make, while another player says he never intended to foul the Hillsboro player who was shooting. Following extensive dialog and seemingly endless debate, a judge says the game must be replayed in an attempt to fulfill the will of the people.

Joe: You mean the will of Marion fans.

Slick: In any event, the game is replayed and Hillsboro wins by two points.

Joe: Let me make a wild guess. The game isn’t really over.

Slick: You’re catching on. The game is protested because Marion points out that the game was called by three officials who graduated from Hillsboro High School and Tabor College.

The judge, who just happens to be a Marion High School graduate, upholds the protest. The game has to be replayed. It’s the only fair thing to do.

Joe: Your definition of “fair” is interesting.

Slick: That depends on what “is” is. Anyway, the game is replayed, and guess what? Marion wins by one point.

Joe: Are the Hillsboro fans gracious losers?

Slick: Are you crazy? They’re outraged. They protest the game. They write nasty letters to the editor. They point out that justice has not been served. They point out that they already won the game four times. They hire a good lawyer. They take it to a judge from Peabody, and the judge agrees that, to be fair, the game should be replayed.

Joe: Is there an end or moral to the story?

Slick: Instead of the basketball court, the game winds up in the legal court where lawyers for each school make brilliant cases why their respective teams should be declared the winner.

They argue that instead of playing the game on the basketball court with imperfect officials, imperfect coaches, imperfect athletes and imperfect fans, the case should be decided in a court of law.

Joe: You don’t really believe this nonsense do you?

Slick: I guess not, but I’m not taking any chances.

Joe: Where are you going?

Slick: Back to school to get my degree in sports law.

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