BROADVIEW — Shouts of excitement rang out across Montana when the MHSA announced that a shot clock is coming to high school basketball next season. The decision to implement shot clocks came down to a simple majority vote among the MHSA's 159 voting delegates earlier this month. The proposal calls for schools to begin installing shot clocks at the end of this season and have them operational in time for summer camps to give teams a chance to get used to them.
With the vote, the MHSA approved a proposal to implement a 35-second shot clock for boys and girls basketball games at both the varsity and subvarsity levels beginning next season.
The proposal included four benefits of utilizing shot clocks:
- A shot clock would stop stalling in games and require teams to improve game management and strategy.
- The faster pace of the game would encourage player development and improvement.
- The quicker pace would improve the game experience for fans.
- Using a shot clock would better prepare student-athletes for the pace of the game at the college level.
But the mood in many Class C towns is not nearly as jubilant. In fact, there's much more concern about the cost that the mandatory measure will incur.
"Now we add another job? I’m never going to find them. I don’t know what I’m going to do," said Broadview athletic director Kim Sorkness-DeCock.
She's already worried about having to find another basketball-savvy volunteer for next season’s games, and she's not alone.
"It’s a challenge to find people to keep the book, keep the clock, take tickets," said Broadview-Lavina boys varsity head coach Scott Severance. "It’s harder operationally to run a shot clock than a game clock, so how many stoppages of play will there be to reset the shot clock?”
And that’s just the human cost. Then there’s the actual finanial cost, estimated by the MHSA before the January 17th to be between $5,000 and $10,000 per school.
Broadview is one of the lucky ones, with a compatible scoreboard to simply add a shot clock feature.
"The basic one we have to have will cost $4,000," Sorkness-DeCock said. "But other schools that don’t have updated clocks will cost $20,000."
That money will come from most schools’ general fund - money given to them by the state to cover all generic expenses.
"Things like books, supplies, things that we need in the classroom, desks, chairs, those kinds of things," Sorkness-DeCock said."So yes, it’ll take away from that."
So far, Sorkness-DeCock said she hasn’t heard of any additional help coming from the state or MHSA to offset those costs.
Even School District 2 athletic director Mark Wahl, who oversees the largest district in the state, knows it will be an costly endeavor.
“It will be somewhat expensive," he said in a text message to Q2. "We will have one in each main gym, as well as the auxiliary gym at (Billings) Senior. We will also look into sponsorships to see if that would be an option."
Sorkness-DeCock has been encouraged to find sponsors as well.
It’s one of the reasons Severance has been against the shot clock for a while.
"What I’ve always questioned, is this a good use of resources, or is there a better way to use them to enhance the experience for the kids and players?" he said. "The intent behind it is to improve play, but initially at least, until people get used to it, I think the quality of play is going to actually go down."