Is Basketball A Contact Sport? Answered!

Depending on who you ask most people who play basketball would say that basketball is a contact sport. Others will disagree until they are watching the game and realize this guy almost got his head taken off while attempting a layup. Now you’re wondering…

Is basketball a contact sport? No, although basketball does encounter physical contact on the court, from setting screens to taking a charge and dunking on someone in traffic, the rules of basketball are in play to protect players from such physicality within reason preventing the sport from being what is known as a contact sport. Basketball is not even considered a semi-contact sport…

I am sure many of us think differently who played the game of basketball and the amount of no calls by the referee due to hard contact would have us question what type of sport are we playing here. The rules to basketball when the game was first invented was extremely physical in nature before basic rules were implemented.

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 Definition of a Contact Sport

The oxford dictionary states that “a sport in which the participants necessarily come into bodily contact with one another” is a contact sport. They use rugby as an example, other sports include football and hockey all of which the rules of these respective sports allow for contact.

While we can make a case for basketball as a contact sport it is not to the extreme of the sports listed above. While there is contact when a player drives to the basket for a layup and dunk usually what follows is a foul call by the referee if contact is made. Hard fouls do not happen all that but when they do you are penalized with a flagrant 1 or 2 depending on the severity of the foul.

It is clear that basketball isn’t even a semi-contact sport while maybe if they kept the rules in place like in the 1980s or 90s then maybe overtime it could have been at least a semi-contact sport. I can’t even make an argument really not the way the game of basketball is played today, the amount of times I see non contact fouls is ridiculous, in fact if I never played the game of basketball I would of stopped watching the NBA a long a time ago.

The game has changed soo much and the talent is more skilled then ever while I love talking about 7 foot players who can dribble as good as the guards can and shoot better than most in the league, this is the reason why I still watch the NBA today, and I haven’t even mentioned the characters in the league that keep the game interesting and worth watching due to the story lines that develop.


What counts as a contact sport?

A contact sport is basically any sport that allows contact in their rule book and are not penalized for doing so. Like in football the object of when a player has the football it is to stop them from trying to score by tackling the player down using full contact. This would be considered a flagrant 2 in basketball and you would be suspended and kicked out of the game. Basketball in prison maybe considered a contact sport depending on what the rules are in prison.

Limited Contact sport

Basketball can be considered limited contact as there are instances in which you are going body to body trying to get position, whether that is trying to post up down low to get into scoring position for an easy 2 points as a big man, or simply trying to beat your man off the dribble while the defense, body to body trying to prevent you from attempting a layup.

Some other types of contact in the game of basketball is as follows:

  • Taking a charge.
  • Contact layups.
  • Blocking shots.
  • Posting Up.
  • Man to man defense.
  • Stealing the ball without fouling.
  • Trying to get into scoring position.
  • Fighting over Screens
  • Setting screens
  • Dunks.
  • Rebounding.

All these types of plays or in basketball involve some sort of contact with another player just not to the extreme of other sports.

Basketball is soft?

As basketball fans we have heard people who have never played basketball before say this, and it annoys us. The next time you hear this from someone tell them to go play pick-up basketball at popular court and see how soft it is. It’s usually someone who can’t even play the game and will say that sport is soft, and will counter with football is a man’s game. Fair enough, I can understand why people say this, just watch the NBA…

The NBA this is a different story, it is softer than ever. In a time during the eighties and nineties, hand-checking was allowed. which let players put their hand all over their opponents, this made it difficult for players with the ball to get around their man to score. During this era is where teams had rules for players who entered the lane with the ball it was an automatic hard foul that would leave players questioning if they wanted to enter the paint again. But if they did decide to enter the paint, a fight would ensue. The Detroit Pistons had what was called Jordan Rules that literally was to hurt Jordan and prevent him from scoring leaving him him battered and bruised after every game. Talk about an honor if your Jordan, the only way to stop you is to knock you on your ass.

Still during this time the game of basketball was still considered a non-contact sport.

When basketball was first invented by Dr. James Naismith 1893 the students in his class played with a limited set of rules. Which had the students playing aggressive and fighting for the ball and left players hurt and bloody. Naismith had to invent the 13 rules of basketball to help keep order in the game.

 The rules of basketball forbids such contact especially in today’s game but if you can get away with certain physicality,  wouldn’t that mean that it’s legal and the wouldn’t that mean it considered a contact sport, I guess it would be depending on one’s point of view. I am not trying to make an argument for basketball to be a contact sport, I am actually embarrassed with the NBA and how soft it is.

The NBA in the 90s with slowly changing, the way the game was being played, points per game for a team was starting to go down every year. While the best basketball player on the planet was putting on a show (Michael Jordan) they knew if this kept up it would change the way the game would be played for the foreseeable future.

 The NBA wanted to be entertaining, they also knew one man couldn’t provide all the entertainment. They wanted higher scoring games, which meant more points, more highlights and more entertainment, this would appeal to a new fan.

The NBA decided to shorten it’s three point line from 23 feet and 9 inches to 22 feet. This took place for a couple years from 1994 to 1997, the reason was to induce players and teams to shoot more 3 pointers of course, which meant more points. Did it work? Not really, sort of, I guess.. They did see an increase in points but not to the degree they had thought. Maybe they thought they would get the results of today’s NBA, where teams average 30+ shots a game from the line.


Then there was hand checking, hand checking was a major rule change that happened in the 2003 and 2004 season, this is in my opinion made the NBA softer than 3-ply bounty toilet paper, then having to sit and watch a game and hearing the players complain about every call makes it even worse. I hate that part of the game. Scoring started to go up again though, probably because of the amount of free-throws teams were shooting now. Remember you can’t touch a player it’s a foul…

Nowadays every time a superstar player gets slightly touched their complaining, and the amount of swearing at these refs blows my mind how there isn’t at least a handful technical fouls being issued or handed out during the game, don’t believe me?

Watch NBA Finals in the Bubble, because there are no fans you can hear a lot of what the players are saying very clearly. This has made it to hate players you use to enjoy watching such as Lebron James. I enjoy watching Lebron he’s is making history but the complaining, it makes it less enjoyable to watch especially when Superstar players get these Superstar calls.

On a replay because a player was touched the foul is called but there’s little to no consistency with the calls. How often do you see an obvious foul on one end  with no call then on the other end the same sort of foul and play immediately with a much lighter occurrence of contact and the whistle is blown. Yikes!! No wonder people have all these conspiracies of the NBA being rigged…



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