This year, South Dakota Class B schools became the final group of high school basketball teams to transition to using a shot clock, bringing the issue full circle, for better or for worse.
When the idea of using a 35-second shot clock for high school basketball was introduced to the Mount Rushmore State, it was met with mixed opinions. Many in the basketball community believe the shot clock works for high school basketball, improving the flow and pace of the contest while eliminating long, stalling, possessions late in games.
Whether or not the shot clock has achieved that in South Dakota is somewhat debatable, but athletic directors and coaches interviewed generally agree that in the years since its implementation, they haven’t seen a great deal of violations.
For at least one school superintendent, that fact helps confirm observations that the pace of play has increased, but for another it begs the question as to whether the clocks were needed in the first place.
While there does exist some disagreement as to the on-court benefit of the clock, many in the high school basketball world across the nation, including coaches, believe the clocks are beneficial and would not only improve the state of the high school game, but also help athletes transition to the college level.
But nationwide, there certainly hasn’t been a rush for high school programs to experience the benefits, as South Dakota is one of only seven other states that utilize the timer, with at least Wisconsin joining the group in the 2019-2020 season.
So why haven’t more states hopped on the shot clock bandwagon? Mostly it’s the financial burden.
Of those who have been interviewed most are in agreement that introducing the shot clock has represented a fairly significant financial obligation on part of South Dakota schools, as the clocks themselves can cost as much as $2,000 to $2,500 per clock.
For some schools, after the cost of the clocks, installation, and service-agreements, the investment has hovered at, or just beyond, the $10,000 mark.
Obviously that up-front investment has been easier for some schools than it has been for others, as has been finding operators, whom the schools must also pay for their services.
Tied in with the financial obligations, some of the displeasure with the initial transition came about in reaction to the process of approval. Even now that the state has fully transitioned, some still take issue that the South Dakota High School Activities Association allowed the mandate to pass unfunded in the first place, and that there didn’t, and still may not, exist a process to appeal such decisions.
In the coming weeks, the Star will present a series of articles that provide a deeper look into the many facets of the shot clock issue including those financial, political, and on-court. Be sure to pick up the January 31 issue of the Hot Springs Star for more on this topic.