In the game of basketball, the foul is probably the most recognized infraction. Of course, the easiest of these to recognize is the personal foul which occurs during a live ball and involves contact which hinders a player from normal movements. To a casual observer though, a foul is a foul. In other words, he hit him, she grabbed her, or he tripped him, so blow the whistle and make the call. But, fouls are not quite that simple as described in the National Federation of State High Schools Associations rule book.
There are several types of personal fouls. These are called; personal, common, intentional, and flagrant. The vast majority of fouls called in a game are personal fouls and common fouls. Occasionally an intentional foul is called when, in the official’s judgment, the player fouled on purpose or when excessive contact occurred. A flagrant personal foul is called when contact is of a violent or savage nature and results in ejection of the offender. There are also different categories which deal with specific situations such as; player-control, team-control, double, false double, simultaneous, multiple, and false multiple fouls. It takes a good bit of study to understand the meaning of all and the penalties and order of penalties for each.
Technical Fouls consist of non-contact, or unsportsmanlike infractions, except for the flagrant technical foul which is charged for fighting during a dead ball. These can be charged to the team, the bench, or individual players. Some common examples of technical fouls charged to players are; Profane language, taunting, grabbing the rim, intentionally slapping the backboard, disrespectfully addressing or gesturing to an official, reaching across the inbound plane and touching the ball prior to a throw-in, and a pre-game dunk. There are a few more, but they are rare. Team technicals result from problems with bookkeeping, delaying the game by not being ready to play after a time out, and requesting a time out when they are exhausted. Bench technicals are charged to the coach because he is responsible for everyone on the bench. Examples of these are disrespect to officials, profane language, inciting the crowd, and undesirable bench personnel actions.
As you can see, a foul is not a foul. Each foul has its own penalty and provision for resumption of play. When calling a foul, an official must know if there is player control, team control, dead ball, live ball, and the order in which the fouls occurred when there is more than one.
I’ll end the article with a test. The score is tied with time running out and the dribbler is on a fast break to try to win the game. He misses the lay up and the horn sounds to end the game. He is very unhappy because he thinks he was fouled in the act of shooting and should get two free throws. As the referees prepare for overtime, that player comes near to them and uses profane language toward them.
A technical foul is charged to this player. What happens now? Read next week’s article for the answer!
Next week’s article will feature examples of some more bizarre plays in basketball.