Elam Ending: Storybook or Nightmare?

In only their second year of existence, The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) was forced into a “bubble scenario”. The league took this opportunity to experiment using the “Elam Ending” to close out games instead of the traditional time clock counting down to zero. Just over five months ago CEBL fans watched Xavier Moon of the Edmonton Stingers drain a game winning free throw to clinch the championship. The league has not yet publicly declared whether or not this rule change will be implemented for the upcoming 2021 season.

  • Step one, let’s review what an “Elam Ending” is!

Traditionally basketball games use a time clock that clicks down to zero. Whether in NBA rules or FIBA rules (like the CEBL uses), this generally ends up with the trailing team fouling in hopes the leading team miss their free throws to allow themselves to claw back into the game. Or the leading team coasting to the end by letting the shot clock wind down then throwing up a shot hoping more for a rebound and the opportunity to rag more time than actually scoring.

In the Elam Ending (named after the gentleman who created this set of rules), the time clock is turned off at the four minute mark and a target score is set. The final outcome of the game is then determined by who gets to the target score first. The target score is achieved by adding 9 points to the leading team’s score. For example, if the game was 70-60 at the four minute remaining mark, the target score becomes 79.

This simple tweak to game play in the final quarter makes every possession matter. No more hack-a-player because now every single point matters. Basketball is a game of runs so even in games were the score has a double digit deficit, there is still a sense of urgency to get the target score as opposed to waiting for triple zeros on the clock.

  • Step two, let’s poll a few fans!

The CEBL Twitter account did share the poll (thank you). This same poll was posted on Facebook in the “Fans of the CEBL” group. The voting there went 13-12 in favour of the Elam Ending returning. That brings our total vote to 64 in favour and 33 against the return of the non-traditional ending to a basketball game.

  • Step three, wait and see!

The tone of this article suggests the author is in favour of a return of the Elam Ending. It is understood that this element has its detractors. For the mantra of “every game will have a game winning shot”, it is fair to presume the league would have rather had Moon win the championship on a shot instead of a free throw but no system is perfect.

Whatever the league decides, I hope we all get to watch the drama unfold live in an arena.

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