Joss Biggins
Fall 2017
November 7, 2017

Implemented as of October 1st, 2017 there have been some major rule changes within the FIBA world of basketball. Specifically regarding the unsportsmanlike foul and traveling violations:


Modifications as per the “OFFICIAL BASKETBALL RULES 2017” As approved by the FIBA Central Board:



“While moving and having one foot on the floor while catching the ball or ending a dribble the next foot or feet to touch the floor is Step 1 and will become the pivot foot. “



“Contact by the defensive player with no legitimate attempt to directly play the ball within the spirit and intent of the rules causing an unnecessary content”


Both of the above rules are not fully inclusive or the rule holistically, however are only modifications. The official Rule Book can be found on the official FIBA website in addition to the Summary of the Main Changes documents (Links can be found at the end of this post). 

As made apparent by FIBA, the ‘purpose’ of the traveling rule change is to have a “common worldwide traveling rule that better reflects the actions on the court” But the actions of whom and in what league? As many of us know, the way the game is played around the world varies dramatically. Interpretations of the rules change as well, however FIBA seems to want to put an end to that.


This new rule effectively forces other leagues around the world to adopt an NBA standard 3rd step. It’s commonly known and accepted that you may take two steps before passing, shooting or releasing the ball. It’s also commonly known and accepted that the NBA is notoriously bad at implementing the ‘correct’ definition of a travel. The internet is full of videos of NBA players walking around the court, ball in hand like it was a football before putting it on the floor.


Why the change? Why has FIBA adopted the same traveling rule as the NBA? It may just be another phase in the transformation of international basketball metamorphosing into a more “entertaining” version of the game seen in the US. Giving the offensive player one more step provides the opportunity for huge offensive plays that are known to sell tickets.


As much as this is an official rule change, many see this as much a marketing campaign. Basketball has evolved to a point where it is now big business - and an international sport that touches all corners of the globe. In the US alone, basketball is a massive business. For example: the NBA grossed over $5.7 billion in 2016. Families don’t just go to games, they buy nacho’s, beer, wine, apparel and more. By the time the 4th quarter has ended, some families end up spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars. It’s all part of the experience of going to the arena to catch a game. However in Europe for example - the game day experience is much different. Teams and their fans turn into tribes, cultures, whole religions even. Teams have extremely deep cultural, ethical and religious roots and fans live and breathe by their favourite team. For these teams, showboating is not part of the experience, getting the win by any means necessary is their only goal.


FIBA may be mistaken if they think they can copy the NBA rule and magically increase revenue in other markets. As overblown as it may seem, FIBA is somewhat ignoring the culture and historical differences between American and world basketball markets.


One thing is for sure, the game is always changing, the questions is: are we really taking another step forward?

For the latest metro rules, please click here: Metro League Rules

For the Fiba Summary of Changes in 2017 click here: Summary of Changes 2017

For the Fiba Official 2017 Rule Book click here: Fiba Official Rule Book 2017

Joss Biggins

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