How to Improve Sports

Upon a lot of reflection and thought I have come up several ways to improve sports to make them easier to officiate, easier for fans to follow and more exciting for everyone.

Let us start with the sport that is capturing most of the world’s attention, but not all that much in the United States.   First of of all, while I recognize the game is known as futbol in most of the world since soccer is an alternate name I suggest that be its world wide name as well. No doubt the National Football League would be with me on this since they still have dreams of taking their sport world wide. Lets get rid of any confusion. 

But I am not done with soccer. I would make a few rules changes which will never happen, but which I personally think would make for a better game. Number one I would eliminate any off-sides calls. If a team wants to run a fast break type offense with players leaking out to take long passes let them. It would result in more scoring chances and exciting plays. It works in basketball and is the most exciting form of the game.   

I would also raise the height of the goal by at least a foot and maybe two to give more scoring chances. But the most important change I would make would be to eliminate the use of the head to hit the ball. Not only is this a safety change but in eliminating the “header” I would replace it with the legal use of hands inside the scoring box. The hands could only be used as in volleyball and not to catch and throw, but only to bat the ball. They could not be used outside the box. Only the feet, legs and body could make contact with the ball there. 

And finally to modernize the game I would eliminate “extra time.” The game clock would stop at any point that now extra time is being added. When the clock said :00 at the end of the game the game would be over. Everyone would know exactly how much time had been played.

Moving to hockey I would also eliminate the off side call. More fast break and long passing would take over resulting in more one on one action at the net.

In American pro football I would do away with the requirement of two feet in bounds on pass receptions. I would use the college rule which is far easier to officiate and really makes the most sense. As long as the receiver has possession of the ball with one foot in bounds before he goes out it is a catch. I would do away with any calls based on ball carriers who are not downed. No more “plane of the goal line” calls. If a ball carrier gets the ball into the end zone he has to down the ball in the end zone, not be in mid-air above it to get credit for scoring.   He also must have possession when downed. No more automatic touchdown if the ball is in mid air over the line and the carrier fails to keep possession until downed. Some of these rule changes are to make the game easier to officiate as much as common sense.

Futhermore, the rules on “football moves” are out. Either the player has possession at the conclusion of the play or he does not. What he might have done next is irrelevant.

In professional and possibly college basketball, I would re-instate an old rule which allowed teams to simply put the ball in play in lieu of taking foul shots to keep teams from intentionally fouling poor foul shooters late in games. I would also reduce the value of any “shot” taken beyond the mid court line to two points with the reasoning that is not really a shot, but a desperation heave and should not count more than the minimum for a field goal. I would also like some games played with a higher basket as an experiment for possible change. The idea has been suggested before, but now that players are so much taller than when James Naismith nailed the first peach baskets to the gym balcony over 120 years ago, perhaps an adjustment is needed. 

Baseball does not escape my changes. I would require that any relief pitcher called on in mid-inning to either finish that inning or remain in the game until he fails to get a batter out. This would require managers to not exclusively use matchups batter to batter slowing down games, but would still allow for changes if their relievers were no successful. Once a ball is deemed caught and in control of a player it stays caught even if that player’s momentum takes him into a wall or other player.

I would require hitters remain in the batter’s box between pitches and that pitches be thrown within :20 seconds of each other. The penalty would be a “ball” charged to the pitcher. Intentional repeated violations would result in removal from the game. I would not advocate any changes within the actual structure of play…still nine innings…still four balls and three strikes…still the same mound distance and baselines. Outfield distances can stay varied since weather and wind conditions make those distances more irrelevant than many might think. And to a baseball historian, the lack of sameness with ballparks has always been part of the charm of the sport.

Visits to the mound by fellow players would be eliminated. One “free” visit by a coach or manager would still be allowed with removal required upon the second visit in the same inning.

No current changes in the new replay guidelines with them remaining subject to review at the conclusion of the season. 

All games played between two teams located two or more time zones away in major league baseball may have starting times altered to better fit both regions. West Coast night games may start to later than 6pm local time if the opponent is from the Eastern time zone. In the East all games with teams from the West must start no earlier than 8pm. (Fat chance of this one ever getting approved, but had to give it a shot!)

This whole topic opens a big can of worms because many don’t ever want to see any change. Actually, that is fine with me, too. Only if change does come I want my suggestions to be considered. Now, let the “tearing apart this stuff begin!”


About gregclucas

Author, "Baseball-Its More Than a Game" available through Amazon.com, BN.com or by order. Veteran sportscaster with extensive play by play experience in MLB, NBA and college sports. "Houston to Cooperstown- The Houston Astros' Biggio & Bagwell Years" is available at many Barnes and Noble stores, Costco, Sam's Club and other selected locations. Also can be ordered through Amazon as hard copy of Kindle.
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