Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Mercy rule approved

The Star Tribune reports the Minnesota State High School League will adopt a mercy rule for basketball and football. For both sports, if a team is ahead by 35 or more points, the game will shift to running time. For basketball, they will use running time at the 9-minute mark of the 2nd half while football will run the clock at the beginning of the 4th quarter. In both sports, if the trailing teams cuts the lead to 30 or less, the game will return to regular time.

Kevin Anderson said on my post-season show (going through delays with issues getting the 4A title game on 45, argh!) that a mercy rule will penalize teams for trying too hard. It makes sense, it's not the winning team's fault that a Harding-type team can't hang with them.

Will it change the game? The only thing coaches may do is have their players move the ball a little quicker with running time. Powerhouse teams like Central and South make easy work of their conference games and may face this situation a lot next year. Both teams are thinking about fine-tuning their game for the state tournament as they have realistic chances, so they may be a little more aggressive knowing the clock won't stop.

As far as broadcasts go, I don't see the new rule having any effect on the games I choose to televise. I look for games that feature two strong or equal opponents that generally don't get blown away by 35 or more (South vs. Central, Kennedy vs. South, Johnson vs. Humboldt, most Cretin games). There is at least some uncertainty over who the winner will be.

It may speed up future games that are broadcast on SPNN, the station I work for on a part-time basis. They err on being politically correct. As such, constructing a TV schedule from St. Paul City Conference games is difficult to balance with competitive games. There's too much disparity among teams, leaving just a few "toss-up" matches to choose from. Blowout games of this nature don't happen as much with football.

In short, SPNN could get some extra time to fill with programming they usually prefer to air.

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