The overall excitement for college basketball seems to be waning. With College Football fandom arguably at an all time high, basketball needs to catch up. Teams are finding it hard to fill up stands like they used to. For example, Thompson-Bowling Arena (home of the Tennessee Vols) holds roughly 22,000 seats, and the Vols are having trouble filling 10,000 of those seats. Most would use the counterargument that the Volunteers haven’t exactly had the best season, and that’s true, but it’s not the reason for the lack of fans. Basketball fans have always been a little wishy-washy, and if their teams aren’t good, you won’t find them even watching on TV. Couple that with the fans’ sense of entitlement to a high scoring spectacle, and it’s a recipe for lower ratings. College football fans have become used to high potent, always exciting games, and basketball has suffered because of it. College football is simply more electrifying to watch than basketball right now. There are a good chunk of die-hard basketball fans, however, and they keep the sport going. The Vols aren’t the only program suffering when it comes to attendance, in fact, I would bet they are in the majority of NCAA Men’s teams having problems. Of course, programs like Kentucky, Louisville, Duke, Kansas, and North Carolina will always have support. If we want basketball to reach its previous popularity, a few rules might have to change in the process. The 35-second shot clock is one of those rules up for debate.
The shot clock was first introduced to the NBA, and forced players to shoot quicker than ever before. There was debate whether to include the shot clock in the NCAA until low scoring; boring games changed enough minds to implement the shot clock. Basketball has come full circle. No shot clock led to low scoring games, and the introduction of the shot clock energized fans everywhere. It made the game exciting again. Now, in 2015, we have the same problem, but for different reason. Fans are extremely bored with college basketball, and the only way to fix that is to make the game more exhilarating. The simplest way to do that is shorten the shot clock. We don’t have to change much, just take some seconds off of it. Maybe we could even adopt the NBA’s 24-second clock. ESPN published an article stating that a 30-second shot clock would be used in this year’s NIT tournament. A marvelous idea I might add.
The goal of shortening the shot clock isn’t to make the game faster, but to create more shots, and thus, thrilling action. With basketball games using a couple hours of TV time as it is, speeding up the game would only hurt college basketball. Creating more possessions, however, leads to higher scoring, fun basketball. Would you rather watch a game that ends 50-48, or 101-100? If I had to guess, I would say the latter. As Americans, we like action, and anything else bores us. Because of this, football has had to change its’ identity, and basketball will be next. If basketball wants to stay on par with other sports, that is.
The world we live in today is fast-paced, and sports have followed suit. Oregon football is the perfect example. Oregon scores a ton of points, plays fast, and is always exciting. For this reason, people flock to be fans of Oregon. I don’t see many people running to become a fan of any college basketball team, especially one without a storied history. The key to increasing the college basketball fan base is to create a fun, fast-paced sport that involves all ages. A step in the right direction would be the lowering of the shot clock. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, just something small like a 30 second clock. The NCAA will take notice of the clock’s viability, and the results will force the NCAA to cater to the new sports fan.