I used to think that the TV timeouts during NCAA basketball tournament games were interminable. They now seem like the blink of an eye compared to the current indefinite (but necessary) break in sports—not to mention life in general—around the world.
Like most things, competition will return at some point. Until then, we're stuck at home, binge-watching series and replays of memorable games of the past.
In the spirit of silver linings, though, the hiatus gives us a rare chance to try to fix what's wrong with sports. There's a lot that's good, but plenty that could be better.
For example, the NCAA could spend its down time figuring out a fair and workable way to compensate the athletes that generate billions in revenue. (No one's holding their breath on that one, but it could reduce some of its bigger scandals.)
And every professional league could reduce its marathon season by a few games. Again, given the fact that the newly ratified NFL labor agreement increases the season to 17 games in 2021, that's wishful thinking.
Still, here are some suggestions for making our games more fun.
- Eliminate the kickoff from football. It was once the sport's most exciting play; now, most result in touchbacks, illegal-block penalties and/or injuries. Basketball ditched the center jump following each basket decades ago; after a touchdown, field goal or safety, give the opposing team the ball at its own 25.
- Move the Super Bowl to Saturday night. The teams have two weeks to prepare, and we're exhausted of the hype by Sunday. Work efficiency on the following Monday would increase as well.
- Get rid of Thursday night NFL games—or at least the hideous "color rush" uniforms employed therein. If you keep the Thursday games, give both teams a bye week beforehand.
- Here's a rare example of more is better: Expand the College Football Playoff to eight teams: the Power Five conference champions and three wild cards (at least one from the Group of Five). Incorporate them into the bowls. And eliminate about 10 bowls.
- Make the designated hitter mandatory throughout professional baseball.
- Strike the phrase "Score the basketball" from the lexicon. Broadcasters' headsets should come with a buzzer that shocks them whenever they speak this abomination. "Score" works just fine. (Right, Reggie Miller?)
- Any college basketball team that finishes below .500 in its conference should be ineligible for an at-large NCAA tournament bid. We need more Daytons and Creightons, not an 9–11 Indiana or Purdue squad.
- Install Jay Bilas as NCAA basketball czar. No one cares or knows more about the game.
- Reduce the NBA All-Star Game to one quarter, since no one plays defense until the fourth. Officially turn the first three quarters into the slam-dunk and 3-point contests that they are.
- Ban hand-slaps between free throws (made or missed). If you contact a teammate, you lose the next shot. There's plenty of time for congratulations during the lengthy timeouts.
- No video review at any level should ever last more than 90 seconds. If you can't overrule in that time, the call stands.
- Substitute the late, great Ray Charles' version of "America the Beautiful" for the national anthem before all games. No song is more patriotic.
- Eliminate all White House visits for championship teams, no matter who's in office. These photo ops waste valuable taxpayer money and have become too political. Same with pregame military flyovers: cool but too expensive.
- Golf and tennis aren't Olympic sports. They just aren't. Neither are snowboarding, table tennis or badminton. What's next, Olympic darts or e-sports?
- The Virginia High School League should return to three classifications (from the current six) and cut its regional tournaments in half. There's no reason a 1–9 football team should keep playing.
You surely disagree with some of these proposals—and likely have some of your own. Share them at the address below, and we'll publish the best at a future date. Until then, hang in there.