The 4 major professional team sports and the one individual sport, golf, are all looking fairly good right now, with everyone raking in a lot of cash. But the games themselves seemed to be bogged down in non-action, that are long drawn-out events. There are things I would like to see change in each and every one of them. I would like to see some big changes in some sports and some tweaks to other sports. These changes would streamline a lot of the games, and some would make the games more exciting. Some of these things will seem pretty bizarre at first, but at least give them some thought, before you write them off as some deranged old man’s delusions. One thing I am not delusional about is that none of these suggestions are going to happen. There would need to be a lot of desperation in a particular sport, for any of the things I am going to propose to come to pass. Let’s face it, the resistance to real change in any organization is extremely high. I am going to include hockey, which you know I don’t consider a sport, but I have to, in order to make the changes in the game I want. Let us begin.
I would like to see the foot removed from football. At least, 90% of the foot removed from football, anyway. I would eliminate the kickoff and the punt from the game. The start of the game would open from the teams own 30-yard line. They would have to make a first down in 4 downs or less and failure to do so would result in them having to give the ball over on downs, in other words, no punting. Let’s face it, the kick-off and the punt are the 2 most boring plays in today’s football game. Every once in a while, you will see a good return, or a blocked punt, but they are few a far between. The fear of injury has taken these plays out of the game. The best way to eliminate injuries from these plays, is to stop punting, and kicking off. We will still allow field goals, and extra points to be part of the game. Let’s change the timeout rules to 6 a game and not 3 a half. If a team preserves their time outs and scores with let’s say a minute to go, trails by one score, and has 5 timeouts, then the other team gets the ball at their own 30, and they have to make a first down, or the other team will get the ball back around the opponents 35-yard line. By eliminated the punt and kick-off, it puts a whole new light on the game, and trying to protect a lead. The game will become a lot more exciting with no punting. Now, a new way to eliminate ties, which has been a hot subject lately, with the way the NFL season just ended. If a team is trailing by 3 points and there is under 2 minutes to go, they must score a touchdown, no field goal allowed. If a team is trailing by 7 and scores a touchdown with less than 2 minutes to go, then they must go for a 2-point conversion. The only lead that would be vulnerable to a tie would be 6. A team could score a touchdown and then miss the extra point, which would result in a tie. Another way to help end the tie game, would be to continue the game if the score is tied. In other words, no clock would be used if the game is tied late. If a team is around the 50 late in the game the game would just continue until somebody scored. No more kneeling to send a game into overtime. All of these things would just about eliminate the tie game, and there would be no need for the traditional overtime game. Football without the punt or kick-off would be a much better game.
I have written about this before, but in baseball, something has to be done about the foul ball. There is nothing more boring or time consuming, than to see a batter foul off, pitch after pitch after pitch, with pitch counts reaching well over 10, on one batter. I feel the best thing is to simply say 3 fouls and you are out. I also feel that we only need 3 balls for a walk. That would limit all at bats to 7 pitches max. That, and using the pitch clock would speed the game up immensely. The game has slowed down to a snail’s pace. Another idea would be to not allow the batter to step out of the box between pitches. Also, why does the manager have to go out to make a pitching change. Just signal from the dugout and let the guy come in. I think we need to extend the rule to 5 batters that a pitcher must face when he enters the game, unless he gets the last out of the inning. The game needs to speed up, end of story.
Hockey the game I like but the sport I hate, could do one thing to make their game become Americanized. Simply eliminate the offside rule. This would increase goal scoring at an unbelievable rate and let’s face it the American sports fan loves scoring. The more points the merrier. Hockey games that would routinely reach double digits would fill arenas everywhere. What would the NBA look like, if that was a rule, where the player could not go past half court before the ball. It would look a little ridiculous just like hockey does now, with players having to race back out of the zone to get back on side. Let’s see a totally different look to that game on skates.
Pro basketball probably needs the least tinkering with, since it is a fast-paced exciting game already, with plenty of scoring, thanks to the 3-point shot and players that can make them often. The only thing I would suggest is to put in a 4-point line about 10 feet outside the 3-point line. The 4-point shot would make for even more exciting finishes. The only thing I wish about basketball is that the fast break would come back to the game. No one really pushes the ball up the court anymore, like they did in the 60’s, 70’s, and most of the 80’s. It was a thing of beauty, to watch those Celtic and Laker teams, run the break so well. We will probably never see that again.
Finally, we come to my beloved game of golf. There is no question golf needs an enforceable shot clock. The amount of time these players take to figure out a shot is pretty bizarre. This is another sport where the pace of play has slowed even more than baseball. Golf has never been that fast of a game to begin with. Jack Nicklaus was always being criticized for being a slow player, especially over the amount of time he stood over a ball or putt before he hit it. Today’s player, with the way they discuss each shot and look over the putts from every angle, make Jack Nicklaus look like a speed demon. The clock should start when the player reaches his ball and is his turn to hit. On putts the clock should start the second he puts his ball down after he marks it. The time should be set at about 60% of whatever the average time is now to hit a shot or putt. After much complaining, I am sure the players would get use to it. Failure to get the shot off in the proper time would result in a one stroke penalty.
There you have it, the changes I would make in games, that I watch and play. I think the games would be more entertaining with the changes I have suggested and would create a lot more interest in those games. There would be a lot more action rather than inaction. I know none of this will ever happen, but it is nice to dream about games that would be more streamline and entertaining to the fans that pay the big bucks, that contribute heavily to the success of all sports leagues.