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Marketplace

In the NBA, ‘Hack-a-Shaq’ is fouling ratings, too

Gigi Douban May 12, 2015
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As the NBA moves through its playoffs, the league is looking at the widely debated strategy known as ‘Hack-a-Shaq,’ named after the notoriously bad free-shooter Shaquille O’Neal.

Most recently, it’s Hack-a-Jordan or Hack-a-DeAndre, for LA Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Amazing player, and terrible at free throws. Hack-a-Shaq, or hack-a-whomever, is when a team targets the opposition’s worst free-throw shooter, pounding him with fouls. He has to take the free throw, he misses, the other team gets the ball.

“This kind of drags it down, and probably my guess would be the NBA would be looking at, ‘how could we keep that excitement without having some of these games really have that type of slow finish that might not be as interesting to fans?'” asks Rodney Paul, professor of sport management at Syracuse University.

With the NHL playoffs and baseball season going on, the NBA faces stiff competition for viewers. Tom Rhoads, who teaches economics at Towson University, says banning Hack-a-Shaqs would make the game less frustrating for fans, but take away a key tactic.

“You have certain rules that are designed for the fan and not for the players,” he says.

The constant stops in action aren’t good for advertisers, either, according to Rodney Fort, a sports economist at the University of Michigan. Fort says breaks ought to be predictable. Otherwise, he says, “you have a difficult time identifying the number of slots to sell to advertisers.”

He says the NBA, like other major sports leagues, has been pretty good at changing the rules to make more money.

 

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