Last week, the NCAA decided to move women’s basketball off the two-half system and on to the quarter system. When the news came out, most of the women’s college basketball world let out a collective ”okay?” The move to quarters will likely have very little impact on the way the game is played. But the news got me thinking very metaphysically about sports and the way we play them.
Why did they play halves before? Why will they play quarters now? Why don’t they just play until one team reaches 80 points and then stop? Why can one side call a timeout without the other team agreeing to it? Why can’t the crowd use a smartphone-based polling system to stop play when they all need to grab a hot dog?
There’s an infinite amount of ways to demarcate time in sports. It just so happens that college basketball is played in halves and no one has ever questioned it. It is a fact of life, just like the sun setting or bees buzzing or God crying.
Moving from halves to quarters is like coating Everest with Vaseline – it’s a slippery slope of unheard-of proportions. What’s to stop the NCAA from moving to fifths, or bringing in a clock that counts up instead of down, or dividing the game into innings based on each team’s possessions? Things are the way they are for a reason and it was never meant to be changed. It is set in stone, as should all rules in sports. Just like I cannot go and just change the Constitution or the Bible willy-nilly, the NCAA should not be able to make such an earth-shaking move without seriously considering the repercussions.
We cannot play God with the passage of time. Life does not have media timeouts. The horn goes off when it goes off. We have no agency as to whether we are born in Cambodia or Canada. We are thrown, hurdled into this world with little free will over our own actions, the actions of those around us, or when we are or are not playing basketball. Moments like this give us a false sense that we have the freedom to choose, but it will come back and bite us with the force of nine media timeouts.
This shocking show of hubris is an affront on the human condition. The men and women in Indianapolis who made this decision have no respect for the cosmic ballet in which the world operates. For tens and tens of years, we’ve played college basketball in halves and we never questioned it. But they felt that it was their time to change the game in a drastic way, to upset the apple-cart that has been upright for as long as the game has been played. If it were meant to be played in quarters, it would always be in quarters. It’s “college basketball in halves,” not “Adam and Steve.”