SEOUL, March 7 (Korea Bizwire) — The KBL’s decision to limit foreign basketball imports to heights of 200cm for “tall” players and 186cm for “short” ones next season has sparked criticism for yet another rule change and the South Korean premier basketball league’s failure to understand fan sentiment.
Height restrictions for foreign players have been in place for most of the KBL’s history dating back to 1997, the league’s inaugural season.
In the early years of the KBL, height restrictions were increased over time, starting from 203.2cm and 190.5cm (tall, small) in 1997 and going up to 205.7cm and 193.5cm by the 1998-1999 season.
Two seasons later (2000-2001), the rules were modified to permit one player per team to be 208.28 cm, and limited the combined heights of two athletes to 398.78cm.
Height restrictions were removed from the game in the 2008-2009 season and returned in 2015-2016, with a limit set for small players only at 193cm. This policy had remained unchanged since 2015 until the KBL’s recent announcement for next season.
Besides the height restrictions, the KBL also instituted in-game rules pertaining to foreign hires. In the 2002-2003 season, only one of the two foreign players on the team could be on the court during the second quarter. Four years later, this limitation was expanded to include the third quarter.
Additionally, a draft and free agency were implemented and removed a number of times in the past.
The impending 200cm or less restriction on tall players has incurred displeasure from local basketball fans, since some of the more popular foreign players such as 203cm David Simon and 206.7cm Rod Benson would be disqualified from participating in the league.
Furthermore, the argument has been made that keeping the 200cm plus players out would ultimately weaken South Korean basketball’s competitiveness, since players must inevitably compete with athletes taller than 200cm on the global stage.
The KBL stated it is considering adjusting playing time for foreign players per quarter, with the goal being to push homegrown players’ performance output to 60 percent of games.
Lina Jang (email@example.com)