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Lowering Rims In Women’s Hoops A Logistical Nightmare

By Kevin Hoffman, Associate Editor

Geno Auriemma makes a point. Women adhere to different rules and dimensions in sports like volleyball, softball and golf. Why not adopt similar sets of standards in college basketball?

The sport has grown stale from a fan’s perspective, Auriemma argues. The best way to remedy that is to drop the rim 7 inches to increase dunks and shooting percentages—a plan Auriemma says he will bring to the NCAA. The proposal makes sense to some, but whether it can revitalize interest in women’s basketball and win acceptance worldwide is another story.

Geno Auriemma (credit Getty Images)

The catalyst for this call to change bothers me. It’s not so much to benefit the players, but it’s catering to fans who are only interested in the high-flying, fast-paced action of the men’s game. If that’s the case, why not drop the rim to 8 feet, add another ball and install in-court trampolines that pack all the excitement of a halftime show in four quarters. I’m not so sure Auriemma’s proposal would put more fans in the seats, and he’s offered no evidence to support that claim.

Here’s what I do know.

Lowering the rims in women’s basketball by 7 inches creates a logistical nightmare. It’s unrealistic that schools, parks and other leagues would follow suit, so college basketball would be on its own. Adjustable backboards are hardly the norm, so girls would play most recreation leagues and high school basketball on a regulation rim, only to be subjected to a different height in college. If they advance to the WNBA, it’s back to 10 feet.

It’s impossible to tell how much that interrupted flow would hurt or help players, but it’s something that must be considered. College recruiters would have to learn to gauge an athlete’s ability to adjust. For some it would be smooth, for others potentially difficult. If it’s Auriemma’s intention to have the change reflected across multiple levels, who pays the cost? Municipalities and schools, already strapped for cash, wouldn’t be in any hurry to spend money installing new equipment in gymnasiums and city parks.

So there’s the cash associated with facility upgrades, then there’s the inconsistency across the sport itself. What’s left is the credibility. Auriemma’s plan is based on the assumption that fans shun the game in essence based on scoring.

“All I said is I would like to have a scenario explored where women can have the same success around the rim that men have,” Auriemma says, as quoted by The Associated Press. “Is that too much to ask?”

I find it improbable that fans will flock to games simply by fostering a type of play that, in theory, scores more points. Another potential scenario is fans reject the game on the basis that it’s non-traditional. It’s a risk the NCAA would take by embracing such a monumental change.

Personally, I would like to see the NCAA and universities do more to promote the sport. This exists on a much larger scale with men’s athletics, and whether they’ll admit it, the institutions themselves are partly to blame. I’m not saying that’s the answer, but lowering the rim won’t suddenly fill the stands. It might actually do more harm than good.

While I don’t like Auriemma’s idea, I like that he at least has one and he has the future of women’s college basketball in mind. Seeing larger crowds at their games would be a wonderful sight, but sacrificing credibility is not the way to get there.

To view all 20-Second Timeouts, click here.

Keep them at 10 feet!
Posted from: Mike R, 3/1/13 at 1:31 PM CST
I coach girl’s basketball at Charlotte High School (Punta Gorda, FL) and I agree with Mr. Hoffman in that lowering the rims would in fact do more harm than good for women's basketball.
The speed and style of the men's game (college and pro) is just that, the men's game. The women's game is full of the same passion and desire and that is why their fan's come to see them play.
I also agree with Mr. Hoffman in that the schools could put forth more of an effort to promote the sport, yet I think the women's game would benefit more from an increase in youth programs. Middle school sports (boys and girls) are disappearing by the wayside. Many communities are now responsible for implementing more youth sports programs to reach the masses. Some team sports thrive so well with younger kids, in my opinion, because more than 5 kids can play at once and the ability to pick up the sport at a younger age is easier than asking a 5 or 6 year old to start dribbling and shooting.
Getting girls engaged in basketball at a younger age gets them to fall in love with the sport. It helps strengthen skill level for when the athlete gets to an older age, making the contests more competitive and fun to watch.
I have been to plenty of men's games where there were no dunks or flying plays, and yet I stayed for the entire game and enjoyed the experience.
Leave the game the way it was meant to be played.
This was just my opinion and I would like to hear what others feel about this topic.

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