My Angry Rant
Today I’d like to take a break from watching games and address one of my biggest current basketball pet peeves, and a trend that I’ve been seeing over the past few years: creative player position designations on rosters. As you know, there are three primary positions in basketball: guard, forward and center. These are the terms that should be used to classify players by position. Actually, I wouldn’t complain if the classifications “small forward,” “power forward,” “point guard,” and “shooting guard” were used for specificity, but it’s certainly not necessary. Anything beyond that seems like a massive display of ego to me. It’s as if the coach is saying “Oh, well my team is so unique that I can’t classify them by the traditional rules of basketball–we need terms more tailored to us.”
Case in point–Saturday night’s roster sheet for the Wauwatosa East-Hartland Arrowhead game had one freshman team which contained the following abbreviated position designations (yes, these are the things that I notice at games) for a team of twelve players:
F (3 players)
C (one player)
F/C (2 players)
P (2 players)
W (2 players)
P/W (2 players).
I’m assuming that “P” stands for post, “W” stands for wing, unless there’s some really ridiculous classification scheme out there that I’m not aware of. Though to be honest, even my basketball-centric mind took a few minutes to process this information. Perhaps most mind boggling about the above classified team is that the coach who drew up this roster actually got half of his team classified by using real positions, but then dropped the ball by describing the other half of his team with made up terms. With that in mind, I’d like to offer a few questions about this classification scheme and the team for which it is being used to classify players:
1) I see absolutely no one listed as a guard on the team, and I could be wrong on this one, but when I think of a “wing” player, I don’t think of a guy who plays point guard. So, does this team have anyone who’s responsible running the offense and handing the ball?
2) What exactly is the difference between a “P” and a “F/C?” Typically when I see someone listed as a forward/center, I think of them playing in the post. Conversely, I think of basically anyone who plays primarily in the post as a center or bigger forward. Can anyone describe to me what the distinction here is?
3) What is the coach trying to tell me about the two players classified as “P/W?” All I picked up is that neither is probably playing point guard. Of course, I can’t be sure of that, since there’s no one on the team listed as a guard. So one of the guys with a “W” by his name must be playing point guard, since it’s pretty much a position that has to be present on any basketball team. Basically then, I have no idea what either of these two guys do.
I’m sure there are more questions like these out there, but you get my point–no one other than the team itself could possibly understand the composition of this team. So my plea to coaches who are drawing up rosters for the year–please take some time and classify your players according to the actual positions of basketball. Even if your team doesn’t believe in labeling people as “guards,” just do it for me and the rest of the fans. The standardized system provides us at least some hint of guidance as to what your guys do, and honestly, no one’s going to get angry with you if someone plays out of position. Unlike most sports, basketball positions are basically just designations of convenience anyway, so why not use them. Us lesser basketball minds would really appreciate it.
(As a quick addendum, in case you don't read the note below, an astute reader has noted that the above line-up would make a lot more sense if "P" stood for "point" rather than "post." Great catch. Of course, the fact that I looked at this line-up for two days, wrote an entire essay about it, and still didn't catch this fact just further proves my point that non-standard position names are confusing, given the vast array of potential alternate names for the real positions of basketball.)