Culture and Society

How many fouls do basketball players get?
Answered by Animal Planet
  • Animal Planet

    Animal Planet

  1. Officially, there's no tackling, holding or hitting in basketball. However, if referees stopped play to call a foul on every touch, nudge and elbow jab, not much basketball would be played. Generally, referees save their violation calls for a player who grabs the ball or takes a shot as a result of overt physical contact with another player. It's tough for fans to see these calls, especially when seen through the eyes of our bias for the team we're pulling for. Sometimes, a hand-check is egregious enough to receive a foul call, but a player can run into another player and nothing gets called. It depends on whether it inhibits the other player's movement or prevents him or her from ball play.

    Naturally, the rules are much more complicated than that, and there always will be some subjectivity in the calling of fouls in basketball. But the number of fouls allowed per player is set: The NBA boots a player from the game on his sixth foul. College only allows five fouls; once a player commits a fifth foul, he or she gets to watch the game from the bench [source: USA Basketball].

    A technical foul is assessed for committing an unsportsmanlike act; this might include excessive contact, disrespect toward officials and use of profanity, but it's also open to interpretation for officials. The technical also counts toward the player's foul count, but generally two technical fouls by a player gets him or her booted from the game and the entire court area -- to the locker room. Fighting also can cause a player to be ejected from a game immediately. The NBA recently cracked down on negative behavior from players, especially in reaction to calls from officials, by calling more technical fouls for gestures and arguments [source: Mathis-Lilley].

    The number of team fouls also is important in basketball. Once a team reaches a certain number of fouls within a period, it affects the bonus free throw situation for their opponents. In college basketball, teams get a bonus free throw after seven fouls per half (called a one and one) and in the NBA, the bonus hits after the fifth foul in a period.

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