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High School Refs in Maine are Giving Technical Fouls for Dunking

A rarely-enforced rule that prohibits "grasping the rim" on dunks is all of a sudden being called in the Maine high school state tournament.
Screenshot via Travis Lee Twitter / @TLee_WMTW

Some rules are meant to be broken. Some are meant to be just flat-out ignored. For instance, this "grasping-the-rim" rule at the high school level. Per the Portland-based Press Herald, Maine referees are suddenly enforcing an oft-ignored national rule that limits the enthusiasm with which one can dunk a ball. Not surprisingly, people are pretty pissed about it.

Maine is in the throes of its high school state playoffs, and referees are dusting off the old rule book to dole out technical fouls for players who are grasping the rim whileshooting or, you know, dunking. At least four players so far have been T'd up for grasping—not even hanging on, or violating sportsmanlike conduct rules—the rim, per the Herald.


The pertinent section of the National Federation of State High School Associations official rule book, Rule 10, Section 4, Article 3 on player technical fouls states that "a player shall not":

“Grasp either basket at any time during the game except to prevent injury; dunk or stuff, or attempt to dunk or stuff a dead ball.”

While this might have been all fine and good during the peach-basket era, the game has clearly evolved, and high school players have developed in such a way that dunking is an important part of the game—not to mention their future careers. Imagine recruits coming to a game, scouting a kid who's 6'10" and only getting a visual display of tidy layups.

Here's one incident—in a game between Scarborough and South Portland on February 16—where a player was given a tech for what is basically a gentle, dainty dunk.

Hard to argue that that's anything other than a well-executed fast break. Scarborough was hit with two techs for dunking that game, and coach Phil Conley decided to politely question the decisions, per the Herald:

“I think it has been called differently in the playoffs than in the regular season,” Conley said. “I just think we need to come up with a better rule because a dunk in basketball is exciting.”

Even college coaches are taking notice. Here's University of Maine head coach Bob Walsh:

If anything, Maine should be encouraging an expressive, beautiful form of the game. Just try naming the last great NBA talent to come straight out of Maine.