Every game begins with this question: “Ball or way?” Get the ball first, or take your choice of hoops to defend? And who decides which team gets the ball first or which direction they will be bringing the ball? From the mysterious process by which the tribe nominates a player to “shoot for outs,” to the scientific method approach for choosing ball or way, this pre-game decision has become wrought with an interesting mix of customs, traditions, debates and theories.
In a search for a final answer, this question has been brought to a panel of Lunchsketball experts, but before we get to their responses, keep in mind that in a game which is often decided by a basket or two, taking the guaranteed one extra possession that comes with “ball” looks on paper to be the obvious safe choice; but what about the other factors that may or may not make going one way on the court advantageous to the other in deciding “ball or way”:
- Is the sun more in the eyes of players facing the West end of the court?
- Do the trees, fences, landscaping embankment, and bushes behind the East hoop provide points of reference to improve depth perception and FG%?
- Is there anything to Erik’s theory about over-use of the East basket leading to softer rims, favorable to shooters?
Without further ado, here are the experts:
Kerry (aka “Kracker”): Ball. Erik’s brain is softer on the East end of the court. Both teams will get equal time going each way. If you’re behind at halftime you have the possibility of starting out with ball in both halves. Play the odds…
Erik (aka “E-machine”): Way, for sure. Offense is a more controlled, precise game. For the first play of the day I’d rather be on defense. That way by the time it’s our ball, my team’s more fully in gear and warmed up.
Gary (aka “Original Gary”): Ok….this depends on the weather as far as I am concerned…..if it is hot outside and the sun is a factor, then way is the important choice…that way you finish the game going the way you prefer…..whether it be because of sunlight interference or the basket you prefer….if weather is not a factor and it is overcast, little or NO sun or raining…you ALWAYS want the BALL in your hands first!!! That is my take….G$
So the answers are varied: ball, way, and “depends”. This article has gone nowhere. Your thoughts?