Rules Changes that will make Sports Better

The NFL has just announced that they will move the extra point back to the 15 yard line but leave the 2 point try at the 2. This small rule change will increase the number of key choices a coach will have to make and it will most likely make the NFL more entertaining. This got me thinking, what other rules can we tweak or create to make the sports we watch and care about more entertaining.

Football: Football is my favorite sport but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of gripes about the rules and how referees interpret the rules. The first thing I would do is fix pass interference. There is nothing really unreasonable about it according to the rule book, but some refs interpretation of interference is downright awful. For example this was a pass interference call from a Browns game back in 2013.

I’m still butt-hurt about that call 2 years later and I have every right to be. I don’t see how the contact made by Leon McFadden altered his path or restricted his ability to make the catch. This is just one example of growing trend of refs calling tacky pass interference. My plan to fix it is to train the refs to be more lenient on calls and to give coaches the ability to challenge pass interference calls and have the booth look at calls in the last 2 minutes of the game. This may lengthen games a bit, but I feel that the need to get these calls right is a greater priority.

Baseball: Baseball is a difficult game to change because baseball traditionalist often hate it. But change might be necessary for baseball to grow in this new generation. Generally speaking the complaints about baseball is that it is too boring and too slow. The new pace of play changes helped speed up the game a bit  and my idea will continue the trend and add strategy to the great game of baseball. Last year there were 17936 pick-off attempts and only 132 were successful in getting the runner out, good for 0.7% success rate. Pick-off attempts are the most boring play in all of baseball and technically a pitcher can throw as many pick-offs in an at bat as he wants which makes for awful entertainment. My solution is simply to limit the number of unsuccessful pick-off attempts a pitcher has during each inning. I first read about this idea in The New Bill James Historical Abstract and the idea is that the pitcher only has 2 free unsuccessful pick-off attempts per inning. Any unsuccessful pick-off attempts afterward would be considered a ball. This eliminates those long awful innings with ten or more pick-offs and creates some new exciting strategies. Stolen bases will happen more often, which is always a good thing, plus the general excitement that will be in the air when a good base stealer is on after 2 pick-offs. Overall I feel this idea will help speed up the game and increase strategy and excitement.

Soccer: In general Soccer is probably my least favorite sport to watch. But this past year I have watched a lot of soccer because of the World Cup last year (I enjoyed chanting U.S.A. more than anything), and working for the women’s soccer team at Bowling Green State University. While I find soccer at the college level to be decent, the rules and gameplay of the elite leagues can be maddening. The first thing that doesn’t make sense about soccer is extra time. Extra time should be based on how often the game stopped for injuries or substitution but it never does. In fact FIFA doesn’t even show how its referees decide to add stoppage time for any given match. This has led to many studies that have proven that home teams when losing get more time. This is hilariously stupid and could easily lead to shady activity. My solution, stop the clock when someone gets hurt or during substitutions, every other sport does it and I don’t see why soccer shouldn’t.

Second issue with soccer is its flopping. This topic feels strange as I seen 10+ women’s soccer games last year and I can’t recall any real flops. But when I watch 10 minutes of the Premier League and there’s 3 players flopping and whining. The crazy thing is unlike other sports where the ref notices the flop and ignores it soccer refs seem to fall for it every time, even in huge situations. Take for example the Netherlands vs Mexico World Cup game. The Netherlands’ Arjen Robben acted like the sniper who sits in section 408 shot him in the leg and drew the game winning penalty kick. It is just crazy to me to think that a game which values skill and grace would let a game be decided on by acting ability.  First, don’t support flopping. Players will stop flopping if the refs stop calling it. Second, fine and suspend players who flop and give them even less benefit of the doubt on close calls. And third, don’t be afraid to stop the game (and the clock) to make sure you’re making the right call. If you fix this more Americans and people from every country in the world will be entertained by the sport of soccer. (Oh and a less corrupt governing body would be nice as well.) – TheFootPaul

Hockey: There isn’t much wrong with the current rules of the game. While it seems some fans are flustered with the near extinction of the fight and its room in the game, that is not the biggest issue and in no way impacts the integrity of the sport. The main issue is that referees are not allowed to review penalties, chiefly Delay of Game calls to decide whether the puck deflected inadvertently out of play or if it cleared the glass without making contact with anything else before exiting the ice.  The lack of replay was present in the Washington Capitals- New York Rangers playoff series late in Game 6, which was a must win for the Rangers to stave off elimination.  The referees ruled New York’s Dan Girardi guided the puck over the glass without it touching anything before leaving play.  However, looking at the instant replay, it became clear that the puck made contact with the glass which should have resulted in a face-off, and not a penalty.   While it didn’t cost the Rangers the game, it certainly had the potential to have an impact on the game.  Every other sport has embraced the use of replay, isn’t it time hockey use technology to its full potential when deliberating on pivotal calls? – QBall