I’m getting depressed. Week 9 of the NFL season is 4 days from now and it marks the middle of NFL season. The beginning of the end. I love football season more than almost every other sport. Tonight, I found myself watching Family Ties at 8pm (quite enjoyable) instead of watching a Devils game, or 2 college football games (one with Rutgers), or an NBA game with Shaq (who I love). Why is that? It turns out I hate those sports! After a few minutes of brainstorming, I decided that these are the sports I actually like: NFL Football, NHL playoffs (live), the big 4 golf tournaments and team golf tournaments (with Tiger only), March Madness, the big 3 horse races and anything volleyball. Everything else sucks right now. In fact, I think I hate every other sport…and here’s why:
I hate that I’m bored after the first pitch because the game goes so slowly. I hate that the biggest jerks in HS and college were on the baseball team and we all know they’re still jerks today but for some reason everyone idolizes them. I hate almost all baseball TV announcers and I don’t care if a player’s dad is in the stands or whatever stupid trivia Afleck makes us answer. I’d rather listen to nothing. Baseball is the ultimate picture in picture game that you can just watch in a little box on the corner of your TV while you surf the web. I hate when they say that a very close play “was a bang bang play.” If it was a bang bang play, then it would be obvious which bang happened first. It should be called a “bang” play, as in there was only one sound because both actions happened at the same time. I hate when fans leave when down 2 runs in the 8th or 9th inning. That’s when I would show up. The most exciting time to be at a baseball game is when down at the end of the game. If you’re down 5, or up a few and don’t want to watch your closer blow it, I understand, but down 2 at the end is the best. I hate when your team needs base runners and a player jumps out of the way on an inside pitch. TAKE THE BASE! If I were a journalist, I would call that player out in my first post game question. I hate that hitting goes way down in the post season and random average players become starts b/c they timed their steroid cycle perfectly (Molina brothers have it down to a science). I hate that everyone hates the best player in the game and loves the worst short stop in the game. I hate that everyone loves talking about how this team or that team overspent on a player when there is no salary cap so it doesn’t impact the team at all how much they spent. How much a player is paid matters in the NHL, NBA, NFL because of cap rules which means money spent on one player can’t be used on others. Teams in baseball don’t raise tkt prices because they overpaid for a player, it doesn’t impact you as a fan at all.
Add a pitch clock. Make it 15 seconds and no stepping out of the batter’s box unless you’ve fouled off a ball or have something in your eye. Games are too long, and regular season extra innings should start with a player on 2nd base and a 2-1 count for every hitter. Make charging the mound a 15 game suspension but hitting a batter, as long as it’s not in the head, unsuspendable. This will allow pitchers to pitch inside and/or hit batters on purpose instead of intentionally walking them. Make all pitchers bat for the revenge factor. Eliminate the umpire behind the plate making balls and strike calls, computers can do that relatively quickly. Replace that umpire with one in a replay booth and give him the ability to call downstairs and tell the umpire what they got wrong before the next batters hits. Replays in baseball, unlike football, need only take 15-30 seconds as usually the answer is obvious. I want radio play by play during the games so I don’t actually have to turn my head from my computer unless something happens and I want a former coach or player explaining strategy.
I hate that a foul can be called on every player every possession and that a refs decision to call a foul seems arbitrary. I hate that the league doesn’t admit it has a credibility issue with the refs even after one was arrested and jailed for betting on his games. I hate everything about David Stern and his smugness except his hilarious insistence that there must be pigs and a blanket at every party. I hate that referees decide the close games. I hate that offensive fouls aren’t called enough, especially push offs and blocking with one arm. I hate that players who jump straight up to contest a shot are called for a foul every time the offensive player makes contact with them. I hate that during 3pt shooting contests, players can hit 20 of 25 shots, but no player averages over 50% from 3pt range during the year even though most 3's in the league are uncontested. I hate that players who are 7 ft tall get blocked when they try to lay the ball in instead of jumping and dunking (it's not that hard guys, I've done it). I hate that when my team wins, I’m not satisfied because I know we got some “lucky” calls and when my team loses I’m livid and feel like I was wronged. I hate that for 90% of the good games, you can miss the first 43 minutes of the 48 minute game and not really miss anything. I hate that the Knicks are terrible and owned by the Dolans who only care about $. I have not paid for a Knicks or Rangers game in over 10 years because of them.
Change the 6 foul per player ejection to 4 fouls per player. This will keep players from playing so physical and let the beauty of the game come out. No one liked the Pistons of the 80’s or the Knicks of the 90’s b/c their physicality ruined the games. Fouls in the lane are 1 pt and the ball or 2 shots, fouls outside the lane are 1 foul shot and the ball. Allow teams to protest bad calls at the end of games by walking off the court. I wish Dallas had done this when they played Miami. I still think they won the series 4-2 and that the refs took 2 of those losses away. If I were a Dallas fan, I would have walked across the court and never gone to a game again. Allow outside representatives to audit the finances of each ref. Allow replay at the end of games, including foul calls. I like the NFL rule about ownership (you can’t own a competing sports team in the same city you own an NFL team) but I’d expand it to include “you can’t own a team if you have public shareholders.”
World Cup Soccer:
I kinda love the spectacle of the world cup, but hate the sport. I usually spend those 4 weeks ever 4 years complaining about how bad soccer is as a sport. I hate that there isn’t enough scoring. I hate that more than half of shots miss the net. I hate that because scoring is so sparse, the team that dominates doesn’t necessarily win because of a bad call, a missed call, or one lucky shot. I hate that seemingly more than half the goals are engulfed in controversy. I hate that players dive. I hate that players get injured and walk back on the field 2 minutes later, totally fine. I hate that you can only substitute 3x a game when you have 8 players on your bench. I hate that there’s no official clock. I hate that there’s no replay when half of the goals scored are controversial. I hate penalty shots which are more of a coin flip or arbitrary kicking skill than an actual soccer skill, are used to decide games. I hate that, similar to basketball, I feel either slightly relieved but not satisfied after a win, and totally enraged after a loss. I hate that a strategy is killing time. In the 2010 world cup, Landon Donavon scored with 2 minutes remaining in stoppage time but ran around and was tackled by his teammates for 1.5 minutes. The refs didn’t add that time back and I felt icky about winning like that and just want to punch all players who do it. In summary, I hate almost every rule, and every “style” of play.
Enlarge the goals to increase scoring. Make the offside rule similar to hockey so once you pass a certain point with the ball, players can go anywhere. Obviously add replay. I would make cards in the game retroactively reviewable by replay. Thus, if someone received a red or yellow card because of a dive, that player who dove would be suspended 2 games. Any stoppage due to injury is a 5 minute penalty for the injured player. Either he gets up, or he’s done for 5, or they sub him out for the rest of the game. That’ll keep players from “faking” it. Any yellow card is a 10 minute penalty or a forced substitution, coaches decision. Since the conversion rate on penalty kick goals is 80%, any save is guesswork, arbitrary, and usually a miss of the goal entirely. An equally impressive test of a team’s soccer skill would be kicking the ball from the goal line, and getting it to stop closest to the center circle. With bigger goals, you could move the penalty kick back from 18ft to 25-30 feet and make it more of a skill than a coin flip. That would force the player to kick a perfect shot, while forcing the goalie to make a save, instead of just guessing and hoping. A better solution would be eliminating the shootout all together. Why not just remove a player from each side every 10 minutes of overtime, allowing 2 subs. Less players means more open field and more opportunity. If the game got down to 6 vs 6 after 50 minutes of overtime, I guarantee someone would score. Lastly, we need a clock. Most games around about 80 minutes of playing time with some stoppage added at the end to make it 85 (technically there are 2 45 minute halves). Why not add a clock and why not stop that clock when injuries happen, penalties are called, when goals are scored, or even when the ball goes out of bounds. The arbitrary nature of stoppage time drives me crazy, and I hate when my team uses stall tactics.
I hate all women’s basketball at any level (accept before HS) because the players are terrible and the games are boring (not that I’ve watched more than 15 minutes of it since HS).
Lower the basket to 8.5 ft from 10 ft. This will allow the crazy dunks you used to do in your backyard with one of those movable rims. Have the women play men’s teams only or allow under 20 year old men’s teams with 6 ft restrictions to enter the WNBA. I think my HS men’s basketball team could beat most college women’s teams. I think most small college basketball teams could beat any girls team I the world. I’d love to see it. I’d pay for that. There is a reason that guys who played HS ball are on the practice squad of elite college women’s basketball programs. It’s so that the starters can practice vs players who are better than them, or at least, better than their non starters.
I hate watching hockey when it’s not the playoffs. The season is long, the game is physical, and you can tell that the players are dogging it sometimes. I hate watching hockey on TV. So much of the “grace” and “beauty” of hockey comes from what goes on away from the puck, yet on TV, the camera just follows the puck. I hate that when after 4 passes and an amazing goal is scored, you view 4 different angles of the puck going back and forth. I hate that sometimes there is no good camera angle to watch because the players are faster than the puck. I hate that so many players are foreigners. I know, I’m a jerk, but I need to connect to my teams and I don’t identify with Ulf from Sweden, or Alexi from the Ukraine and I hate all the Pauls and Waynes and Marks from Canadia.
While we’re on the subject, I hate Canadia. You read that correctly, CANADIA. If it were Canada, people would be Canadan. Canadians are from Canadia. That’s how English works. People from Alaska are Alaskan, not Alaskian. People from Jamaica are Jamaican, not Jamacian. People from Romania are Romanian…Austria – Austrian… California – Californian. You can’t just add an extra “I” whenever you feel like it, you only do that when there already IS an “I.” You’re either Canadan from Canada or Canadian from Canadia. Pick.
Make the games shorter. Make all games 4 on 4. Have you been lucky enough to watch overtime of games or when there are 2 penalties at the same time and they go to 4 on 4? It’s a much more open game with more scoring, better passing and less defense. Why not do this all the time? When there is 1:05 left on the clock in each period the scoreboard should read “Hey time keeper, how much time is left?” and then the time keeper will due his normal “Last minute of play in the period.” It would be amazing if I could one day get entire stadiums to do that with me, though it’s still funny when I stand up and yell it by myself. Cameras need to be mounted like the ones above the field at NFL games and follow the entire play from end to end…with viewing angles from north to south, not east to west.
College Football / Basketball:
I hate the recruiting advantages at big schools. I hate that most of them play cupcake schedules so they become bowl eligible or so they can get to 20 wins. I hate that most of their players don’t graduate. I hate that the head coaches at public schools (like Rutgers FB) are the highest paid state employees. I hate the argument that the school’s athletic program makes money to support the other sports. Since when did departments make money? Does the history department make money? Why does the athletic department need to make money to support itself? I hate the NCAA and its twisted though processes on recruiting, paying, and penalties. I hate college FB and basketball coaches. They are swine with no loyalty to their schools or their players. I hate the college FB and BB players are lured by false dreams. To Elaborate, there are almost 200 football programs in college with 14,000 students. If 3,500 of them are seniors, and there are only 224 draft spots, you can tell how few will make the pros. College FB and BB coaches recruit by using dreams of the pros and help their existing players avoid actually learning while they have the opportunity to get a free education. They don’t tell their players that even at the top programs in the country only 20% of the players go pro. They don’t tell their players that even if they do go pro, the average career is only 3 years and at the league minimum, they won’t make enough to live off of the next 50 years unless they get a real education. I hate that there is no College FB playoffs. I hate that people think bowl games that aren’t for the national championship matter?
If a player doesn’t graduate, you lose a scholarship. This will force schools to pick athletes who are also in it for the education, and not just to win or play for 2 years and leave for the pros. That will benefit the schools in the long run, and benefit the purpose of college athletics. Eliminate college FB and BB from all public institutions or eliminate all high paid coaches from those programs. Yes, they make money, even schools with profitable FB programs are making cuts to other sports. Rutgers recently eliminated 7 varsity sports while giving their FN coach a $1M raise. I would suggest they fire him and use the $2M saved to add those sports (which had a $1.5M budget) back. They should multiply the BCS score by the graduation rate at each school. That’ll even the playing field and put emphasis on graduation. That’ll also make the coaches responsible for the 80% of kids they are coaching that aren’t going pro. I would pay the players. I wouldn’t pay them much, but a few hundred dollars a week. Some students recently were deemed ineligible for selling game memorabilia for a few hundred dollars. While the colleges exploit these kids for millions of dollars, they aren’t allowed to make a few hundred on the side. They need a union. They need to go on strike.
I hate that you can't make noise for 30 seconds before or during a shot. The ball isn't moving and the club face is flat and 3x the size of the ball... the opposite of baseball which has noise. I hate that you can't follow whatever player you want on TV. I hate that professionals can't use carts. I hate "team captains" for team events. I hate that players aren't "miked up" and that no announcers explain strategy. I hate that they can't play in wind or rain. I hate that they can't wear shorts or tank tops. I hate that players get relief from obstacles. I hate that if your playing partner (technically your opponent) fills out your score card incorrectly, and you sign it, you are disqualified.
Free the game... Allow players and fans to do whatever they want. Get rid of all the stupid stupid rules. Make it more interesting.