If you caught any of The Basketball Tournament on ESPN this weekend, you may have been confused with how those games ended. No time on the clock. A seemingly random jumper or free throw sending guys into bro-hugs and handshakes. It’s because of the Elam Ending, a Mensa member’s revolutionary way to eliminate the drawn-out fouling and bad-shot taking in the final minutes of a traditional basketball game.
How it works: At the first dead-ball whistle after the time goes below four minutes in the final quarter, the clock gets turned off. At that point, a target score is set, equaling the leading team’s point total plus seven. Then, the first team to hit that target score wins.
So, if my team is up by 10 when the Elam Ending activates, I need to score seven points before my opponent scores 17. It’s still an uphill climb for the trailing team, but it eliminates the parade of intentional fouls that can make the end of games interminable free-throw contests.
The Elam Ending was invented by Nick Elam, a middle school principal and Mensa member who is now a professor at Ball State University. Suffice it to say, he spent quite a bit of time crunching the numbers on how to keep the normal flow of a basketball game going until the very end.
If you’re curious how this looks, catch one of the The Basketball Tournament games as the fifth-year event inches closer to its $2 million winner-take-all final Aug. 3 in Baltimore. (You’ll also get to see a bunch of recent college basketball stars like Jimmer Fredette and Jared Sullinger.)
“Data aside, the energy in the arena during the Elam Ending portion of our games was awesome and those teams were seven wins away from $2 million. On Aug. 3, at about 10:50 p.m., someone will have to make a shot for $2 million. I can’t wait for that moment.”
Could this new end-of-game format come to a level of hoops bigger than TBT? It’s been reported that the NBA is keeping its eyes on how these experiments go.
David Selig is Senior Digital Editor at the Sun Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.