I like sports. I enjoy the athleticism and natural skill that’s on display each night across the wide world of sports. I like the chess match of each game, not knowing exactly what will come next and watching players bud before our eyes.
What I do not like are some of the rules of each sport. While rules are a good thing, some of them — in my opinion — deter the sport itself from really taking off.
On sports talk radio last week a couple of hosts were discussing the football rule of a fumble going out of bounds in the end zone becoming a turnover and a touchback. Is it fair, especially when the ball comes loose as a player is diving for the pylon, to reward the defense with possession when there is no other change of possession in the sport where the team playing defense is just handed the ball?
What about returning possession to the original line of scrimmage and a loss of down?
While that rule got me thinking, it’s not the rule change I would make in football. I’ll save that for later — but oh boy is it a doozy of which no one else will agree with me.
Also, I love replay reviews at the professional level and firmly believe that laser technology should be implemented across the board in all the major sports. But again, I’m going to bring up rule changes, not general semantics.
Let’s get the first two out of the way because they are the easiest.
Hockey and Soccer — Get rid of offsides
Nothing irritates me more than this. It would be like in basketball saying all defensive players have to be behind the half-court line or something similar. If teams want to cherry pick, let them. They will defend with one less player.
Energy in the building rising because of a possible breakaway or run at the goal? Stifled because of a foot too far forward.
Let’s get rid of it altogether. I know purists will hate this idea, but man oh man, it brings down the scoring (and potential popularity) of each sport so drastically.
Besides, the second greatest video game of all-time, NHL ’94 for Sega (or SNES, I guess) allows the user to play with all rules, with penalties on but offsides off, or with no penalties. I always play with penalties on but offsides off. Man, video games are visionaries with their simplicity.
Basketball — Add a hot-spot or a 4-point line
I’ve thought a lot about this, and I was almost going to say to get rid of traveling within the paint on a drive to the hoop. But no, TSA needs to see those boarding passes.
By adding a “hot spot” or a 4-point line, it would make for even more electric games. Maybe the four-point line is 30 feet from the basket or beyond half-court. Maybe spot lights pop on and off to allow baskets to be worth 4, 5, maybe even 9 points.
This is an NBA Jam feature (again with the video games). At one point the MTV Celebrity basketball game at the NBA all-star weekend did this, and also added a 20-foot basket worth double points. Basically, no lead is safe.
Golf — Give every pro one mulligan for a tournament
Rory duffs a shot on the Par 5 third hole on a Thursday afternoon? He can re-do. Or, he could wait for that final put on 18 on Sunday when he’s 30-feet out with a chance to win. One chance — no takebacks — every tournament.
While these guys are professionals playing for millions, we also like to pretend to put our game on par with theirs (and typically we love watching them fail).
But have you ever used a mulligan? Of course you have. You will never convince me you haven’t. Maybe you don’t do it all the time, or maybe with your buddy from work you each get one per round. Mulligans are fun, too. I’ve waited until my drive on the final hole. I know I could par out and save face, but maybe I just want to blast the living crap out of my tee shot, knowing I could just hit a safe shot if I mess up. It’s basically a fault in tennis.
Not necessarily a game-to-game change, because baseball is basically perfect, but maybe allow fans (and players and managers) the ability to vote umpires out of the sport. At the end of the season a two-day vote could determine if Cowboy Joe West or Not-an-angel Angel Hernandez would be allowed to continue umpiring. If the vote is no, then they are designated to the minor leagues, and a review board would then determine from the minor leagues who would take their places.
Maybe to help fans would be a game-to-game grading system statistic by a neutral third party. Because let’s face it, only Angel Hernandez can biff three calls in a playoff game at first base, throw out a player or manager who complains about it and still gets to keep his job.
The reason myself and other baseball people don’t like him is not because he is Hispanic (as his lawsuit against baseball claims), but rather because he is simply awful at his job.
Football — Make all field goals, PATs worth their fantasy points equivalence
This one might be the most eye-popping of all, but I firmly believe in this. Can’t get the ball into the endzone from the one-yard-line? A 19-yard field goal is now with one point.
Want to try a 60-yarder right before halftime? Six points.
Let’s do this. It will alter the game forever, and I personally feel in a good way.
Let a team pick how far away they want to kick their extra point and take a chance at the coinciding points. While it might eliminate a 2-point conversion play from the two, it would make an 11-point deficit with 10 seconds left manageable.
Imagine Green Bay is down 11 at the 50-yard line with 2 seconds left and the playoffs are on the line on a frigid day with gusty winds. The game is over, right? Wrong.
Hail Mary touchdown (because that’s what Aaron Rodgers does) makes it a five-point game pending the PAT. Mason Crosby trots out for a 50-yard field goal with no time on the clock. He makes it and Green Bay forces overtime. He misses it, it’s over.
(Ok, he missed it, but the ending was exciting, wasn’t it?)
I love it when no lead is safe. Fans are at the edge of their seats and the outcome is even more of a complete unknown.
— Adam Krebs is a reporter for the Times and doesn’t hit water hazards, he dives right in. There are 53 days left until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and Adam can be reached at email@example.com.