Games Within a Game – Recent Coaching “Tactics”
This week there have been some interesting occurrences in different professional leagues with coaches being more “involved” in the game than they should be. The first example is of Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd when he is seen, on camera, telling his player Tyshawn Taylor to “Hit Me (him)”. In turn, Taylor bumps Kidd who proceeds to spill his drink on the court. The context of this situation is what makes this all the more controversial: 8.3 seconds remaining in the game, Nets are down 96-94 behind the Los Angeles Lakers, the Lakers are in the midst of shooting last of two free-throws, and the Nets have no timeouts. After the drink is spilt on the court, arena staff begins cleaning it up and game play is paused temporarily. While this occurs, during the delay the Nets’ assistant coach drew up an offensive play for the team. Fortunately for the Lakers the Nets missed their shot and Kidd was fined $50,000 – Kidd also admitted to the cheap tactic days later.
Similarly, in the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens/Pittsburgh Steelers Thanksgiving game another coaching interference occurred. During a kick return Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin stood on the sidelines with his foot on the field and just as the Raven’s returner was heading down the field on the same sideline, Tomlin jumped out of the way. The issues: coaches aren’t allowed along the sideline during returns as referees must be able to run down without being blocked, secondly, he was watching the Jumbotron the entire time and had no excuse to not know where the play was. It’s certainly a controversial situation and since the league has yet to make a ruling on it, I will reserve judgement. With that said (I will state I am a Ravens fan so there is some bias), most who have reacted to it believe it to be purposeful so I included it here. I will focus on the Nets’ example due to no set ruling.
So, with two occurrences happening in the same week it brings up an issue: what can leagues do to prevent these tactics? Neither coach was flagged/penalized for their actions at the time. While the Steelers example is hard to determine how much of an effect it had on the possible TD returner, the Net’s call is more problematic. If the Nets hit their shot the game is tied and likely OT occurs; after which the Nets could end up winning. This puts leagues and officials in an even more awkward situation because they may not witness the actions. Can there be a “foul-play” policy or penalty implemented? Well, what circumstances are considered foul play? This is a very delicate ground because of the implications that these tactics have on the sport itself. But, regardless of the difficulties that will come from attempting to fix this, if more occurrences happen something should be done What exactly that is/can anything be done? That will be the interesting part.