Archive for Thursday, December 23, 2010

Column: Rule changes needed for 2011

December 23, 2010

During the past 12 months, there have been too many controversial calls and questionable endings to dozens of sporting events across the country and world.

We’ve witnessed a perfect game being taken away from a Major League Baseball pitcher because of a blown call at first base, game-winning touchdowns called back and a failure to call a shot-clock violation cost a women’s basketball team the chance at a major upset. It’s frustrating to watch the poor officiating at all levels of sports, but that’s a topic for another column.

Some of the poor calls or endings can be avoided with some simple rule changes. Some of these alterations might even enhance the viewing pleasure of fans, from the fanatics to the first-time viewer. So, here are my rule changes for 2011:

First and foremost, no ties in any sport! I’m sick of seeing two teams tie. It happens a lot in soccer and hockey, even occasionally in football. There has to be a winner — simple as that. Both teams play until one team wins.

In soccer or hockey, if no winner is determined after overtime or double overtime, then go to a shootout. If it’s a postseason game, shootouts determine the winner. Why can’t that happen in regular season games? It would prepare teams for the possibility of a postseason shootout.

A tie in football disgusts me. To my knowledge, it only happens in the National Football League. The opposing teams play a 15-minute overtime and if no one scores, it’s a tie. Really?

This leads into my second rule change — NFL needs to adopt the NCAA football overtime rules. In overtime, each teams takes the ball at the opposing 25 yard line and tries to score. After a score or turnover, the opposing team does the same thing. If the overtime result is a tie, a second overtime is played.

If a third overtime is necessary, teams must try a two-point conversion after a touchdown, instead of a point-after kick. College overtime is exciting and entertaining, plus each team’s offense has a chance to score. In the NFL, a coin flip can decide the winner. It’s stupid and time to move on to the 21st century — make it more fan friendly and fair for both teams.

Rule change No. 3 — No more offsides calls. I’ve seen too many goals taken away because an offensive player was closer to the opposing goal than the nearest defender. It could be considered cherry picking, but that’s why there is an equal number of players from each squad on the field. No man should be able to get open near the goal. Removing the offsides penalty would open the scoring up and maybe draw fans who don’t watch soccer because of the rule — many of those folks exist.

Rule change No. 4 — No stoppage time in soccer. I’m not picking on soccer, but it has odd rules that need changed. When a ball is out of bounds or a player is injured, the game clock continues to run. Why?

Maybe time could run while the ball is out of bounds, but no stoppage time. Once the game clock reaches 80 or 90 minutes, regulation is over. Stoppage time runs for a few minutes and seconds with no one watching the game having a clue how much time is remaining. End the game after 80 or 90 minutes, simple as that.

Rule change No. 5 — If a team is trailing by 10 or more points during the final minute of a basketball and commits a foul, the other team should shoot two free throws and be awarded the basketball.

We’ve all seen this scenario, where basketball games drag on during the final minutes. The losing team fouls and hopes the opposing squad misses free throws. Rarely, does it ever work out, but it never does when a team is trailing by double digits. It’s time to stop those shenanigans and finish the game.

Rule change No. 6 — High school basketball games need a 35 or 40-second shot clock and the clock should stop after a made basket during the final minute.

I’m tired of seeing the clocking continue to run after a team makes a late basket. If teams were smart, they would watch the clock and wait four seconds to throw the ball inbounds. It’s simple, the clock needs to stop. I know this would extend the game and go against what I was saying in Rule No. 5, but this would be for the betterment of the game.

Also, let’s add a shot clock in high school. I’m tired of teams stalling or holding the ball — it’s boring. Let’s make them run an offense and at least attempt a shot every 35 seconds.

Rule change No. 7 — The NCAA needs a college football playoff, whether it’s four teams or eight teams, whatever, but something is needed. We can keep the BCS and that system can be used to determine the top four or eight teams for the playoff, but let’s get the top few teams playing each other to determine a national champion. I want to see if a TCU can beat an Auburn or Oregon head-to-head.

That’s all the complaining I can do for now. I hope everyone has a merry Christmas and happy New Year!

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