Coming soon to a North Dakota basketball court near you: A mercy rule.
To be fair, a mercy rule has not been agreed upon by North Dakota stakeholders, though a regulation that would change the way fourth quarters progress is headed to the North Dakota High School Activities Association (NDHSAA) board for debate, according to the Fargo InForum.
Here’s how the newspaper laid out the parameters of the proposed mercy rule:
“… in any game in which a team is ahead by 30 or more points at the start of the fourth quarter, the clock would run continuously in the final quarter, stopping only for an injury or a timeout. If the deficit is cut to less than 20, the clock would again run normally.”
Clearly, the rule could dramatically speed up one-sided contests late in the game, should it come to pass. At the same time, it allows for the tightening of a lead and a late run/collapse, all of which protects some semblance of sporting integrity.
While the rule change would seem to be engineered to protect overmatched teams, NDHSAA Executive Director Matt Fetsch said that past precedence indicates those coaches may be the very ones who ask to leave timekeeping the way it is.
“Most people think (a mercy rule) is something losing teams want,” Fetsch told InForum. “But that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve noticed in the past that the losing teams are the ones who haven’t supported a mercy rule. The rationale is that they were losing court time and an opportunity to develop players.”
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter: @camsmithsports