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The NCAA’s Two-Point Goal Experiment Is Dumb

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And don’t even think about a two-point arc.

NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship - Semifinal Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

You thought my work over at Birds 24/7 would never let me write lacrosse ever again! Well, you’re wrong! (Ed. Note: OH BOY!!! Brian Dawkins!!!!)

By now, you’ve probably heard about the NCAA’s Men’s Lacrosse Rules Committee and their proposed changes and experiments.

The Committee proposed two items for 2017: A slight tweak to the faceoff procedure (which isn’t that big at all); and a slightly bigger tweak to the timeout rule. Now when a team calls a timeout, they’ll also satisfy the clearing rule; this is supposed to make it more difficult for teams to waste time late in the game.

The Committee also recommended several experimental rules which would only be used in the fall. The experimental rules, along with the faceoff & timeout recommendations, must still be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel before they can be implemented. Three of the proposed experimental rules include a 10-yard substitution box, communication devices for officials, and a restricted offensive area (which is dumb).

But the experimental rule that has received the most attention/backlash is the two-point goal. Here’s how the press release describes it:

This experimental rule awards two points if a team scores within 30 seconds of gaining possession. After 30 seconds have elapsed, normal rules will apply. If a team calls a timeout, the offensive team shall not be awarded two points. This experimentation includes a variety of timing options (visible shot clock, etc.).

First, I’ll let Bishop Bullwinkel sing about how I feel about this.

(Ed. Note: I love this song.)

Before we delve deeper, shout out to 24 Seven Lax for this nice walk down memory lane.

Additionally, check out this New York Times article for more information about the first time the NCAA tried this experiment (h/t @CMarshallLSN).

Now back to my reaction.

I don’t like this idea at all and it screams out gimmick. I’m not even a fan of the MLL two-point arc either. I think that’s a gimmick to get fans interested in a niche league inside of an already niche sport. For me and a good amount of people, after high school and college lacrosse, pro lacrosse isn’t really on the radar, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Back to the two-point goal. My main problem with this idea is it seems like a solution in search of a problem. I don’t think many people were crying out that the NCAA needed a two-point shot. There are more important concerns that need to be addressed, like stalling. A permanent shot clock or a more consistent application of the present shot clock rule would go a long way towards fixing college lacrosse’s stalling problem. I hate stalling, it’s trash, and what we have now is an imperfect rule (referees arbitrarily deciding when to put the shot clock on) to a problem that plagues the sport.

Proponents of a two-point shot will point to basketball’s three-point shot as an example of something that may have started out as a gimmick and is now a cornerstone. Indeed, basketball didn’t have a three-point line until the American Basketball Association popularized it in the 1967-68 season, 12 years before the NBA. One the NBA implemented it, FIBA and the NCAA added it as well and it’s been a mainstay ever since.

So can’t college lacrosse do the same? The NCAA can add a two-point goal, but I say no. Why fix something that doesn’t need to be fixed?

The difference between basketball and lacrosse adding new scoring opportunities is popularity and interest. Back in the 60s and 70s, basketball had plenty of stars and the ABA & NBA were in a fierce competition to be the dominant league. The ABA used the three-point line (along with slam dunks) to add more excitement and tip the scales in its favor. And guess what, the NBA made contests out of them during All-Star Weekend. College lacrosse doesn’t have that problem as it is more popular than pro lacrosse by a considerable amount.

The college game can still take things from the pro game, such as the aforementioned shot clock. The NCAA picked the the wrong MLL aspect to experiment. Going back to the NBA-college lacrosse comparison, a shot clock improved NBA play as well as the speed and enjoyment of the game. The same would occur with NCAA lacrosse.

Now if this does get implemented (it shouldn’t), I think it will really benefit Brown and Virginia with their fast paced offense. We won’t know (if we ever do) how teams will approach it, but my guess is that Brown and Virginia would use their fast offenses to get goals.

But hold on! Noted Twitter provocateur Lax Film Room doesn’t think so:

Lax Film Room thinks the experiment will incentive slower play. I see his point. Maybe some teams would rather have a good shot on goal that goes in for one rather than a sloppy shot for two that results in a turnover.

Some teams might do that, but if I was a coach, I would try to get my offense moving faster in order to get quality shots in a span of 30 seconds. Even if the ball goes out of bounds, it sounds like the two-point opportunity will still be there.

But how teams implement and work around the rule is besides the point. It’s up to the coaches themselves and not two people that never played or will never play college lacrosse. The game doesn’t need a two-point shot, and if it does (it doesn’t), this is not the way to go. On the bright side, this is an experimental rule and not set in stone. We’ll see how it plays out if the experiment is passed, but hopefully we won’t ever see the two-point goal in a real game anytime soon.

Now if you excuse me, the Birds take on the Steelers in an uber exciting second preseason game at 7 pm.