FIBA 3×3: Taking on the Half Court

FIBA Officials

By: Rachel Worley ‘21, business administration

NC State’s initiative to a global emerging trend.

A format typically played in casual neighborhood games, 3×3 basketball is racing toward the regulation courts. The structure of the organized competition is regulated by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). In universities across the country, 3×3 games are only self-officiated by participants. Nelson Santiago, coordinator, sports programs, sought to bring the officiating of the sport to NC State by reaching out to USA 3×3 FIBA International official Glenn Tuitt to facilitate an official’s clinic to student employees.

Before the clinic, participants would call fouls and keep score themselves, presenting an issue of fairness for the players. Beginning in November 2019, 3×3 basketball, as an intramural sport, will be officiated by two officials, making NC State the first and only university to implement FIBA 3×3 rules in an organized intramural sports program. 

Recognizing FIBA standards is a significant change, not just for the players, but also for officials.

For players, learning the FIBA 3×3 rules is an exciting and challenging new aspect of the game, forcing changing the style of play that is traditionally familiar to most participants. Before the new rules, the game consisted of frequent timeouts and breaks. FIBA regulations, however, state that if the offense scores, the defense may immediately establish possession, clear the ball and attempt to score. The quick transition between offense and defense makes for swift, uninterrupted play.

 “Moving toward 3×3 FIBA rules allows for more continuous play,” said Matthew Hartl ‘19, a statistics and sports management major, and a sports programs program assistant. The fast-paced nature of the game is a critical element to why the sport has generated millions of fans. 

This popularity has led to it being included as a sport in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. This feature of the sport in a major international event will help propel the vibrant game more into the spotlight. Understanding the increasing popularity of 3×3 basketball solidifies the need for increased visibility regarding the opportunities for officiating this sport. 

To illustrate the existing popularity of the sport on campus, there are currently 65 intramural sports teams. This demonstrates how the sport is taking off in new directions, with more teams registering every season. “With the increasing demand, it only made sense to have officials for the playoffs,” said Santiago. The inclusion of officials to the 3×3 game on NC State’s campus brings a level of authority and gravity to the game, which encourages better conduct from participants and increases the importance of each game. As Wellness and Recreation strives to improve the skill and experience level of their officials, the additional practice time provided by officiating 3×3 games is beneficial for the game.

Glenn Tuitt, the primary contact for coordinating basketball officials in FIBA 3×3 activities for The US Olympic Committee, stressed the importance of taking the opportunity seriously. Tuitt shared that NC State is a major pipeline that is feeding the future officials for the game because of the clinic that was hosted. To further solidify Tuitt’s point, “NC State will have the youngest officiators,” said Santiago. Few people in the nation have officiated FIBA 3×3, which is why NC State will be one of the top development programs for national officiators in the sport. 

This unique opportunity allows officials to leverage this experience as a starting point for their careers.

 “When I heard about the clinic being offered at NC State, I was excited to see what possibility this could create for my officiating career,” said Dylan Rickenbaker ’20, an accounting major, sports programs program assistant and official. Individuals involved in FIBA 3×3 understand the caliber of the game’s potential promising outlook for the game.

“I am very interested in seeing some of our younger officials recognize what officiating 3×3 basketball means, and for officials who are ready to take that next step,” said Hartl. Indeed, NC State’s initiative to a globally emerging trend is providing fortuity on the half-court for both the players and officials.