By Ryan Decker
Sports are perfect in a lot of ways. They give us joy, they keep us humbled, they give us relief in times of need, and they constantly provide entertainment, storylines and talking points at school and in the office each day.
They’re also imperfect in a lot of ways. Human error on the parts of each sports’ governing body, team management, officials, coaches and the players themselves. Rules don’t make sense, decisions make us scratch our head, outcomes make us rip our hair out and burn our clothes.
As great and as perfect as sports are, they could get even better with a few changes.
Here are five changes I’d like to see in sports in 2017.
- Get rid of Thursday Night Football games – players hate them, it’s a bad product, and no one is watching.
- Get rid of NFL games in London – creates an even worse travel schedule, incredibly short weeks for teams, it’s a bad product, and no one is watching.
Less Bowl Games
College Football’s postseason is the definition of “everybody gets a trophy.”
This winter fans across the country will watch forty-one bowl games be played. Yes, you read that correctly, 41.
That means 82 teams are competing in the postseason. That’s 14 more teams than the number that qualifies for the NCAA basketball tournament.
It’s way too many.
Sure they make the NCAA lots of money, so we may never see the number of bowl games get significantly reduced (sadly) but they should.
My suggestion is 16 bowl games. The top 30 teams in the nation qualify. They’re placed in each bowl regardless of conference affiliation, but simply by ranking.
Teams No. 5-30 play in various bowls, while the top four teams play in the two semi-finals and College Football Playoff championship game.
Editor’s note: Teams Nos. 1-25 based on CFP rankings, Nos. 26-30 based on AP poll and teams receiving votes.
Change NCAABB from 2 halves to 4 quarters
All your life, organized basketball is divided up into four quarters. Mighty mites, rec league, middle school, high school – all playing four quarters in regulation.
Following all normalcy, so does the NBA, which is regarded as the premiere basketball league in the world.
So if the best basketball league planet Earth has to offer plays 4 quarters of basketball, as does nearly every league a player plays in before it, shouldn’t college basketball play four quarters, too?
Women’s college basketball has already made the switch to four quarters, doing so last year, and it has made the flow of the game more enjoyable.
The men’s game needs to make the same adjustment.
DH in both leagues
This is something many red-blooded Americans and I have been pleading for for a long time.
America’s pastime is great – there’s a reason it has been so relatively unchanged over the last 100+ years, especially when compared to other major sports.
But there is one glaring mark against Major League Baseball. It’s the difference between the two leagues in the ninth and final spot in the order.
Is it a designated hitter or a pitcher?
Honestly, I would just like to see the American and National Leagues play by the same rules, whether it’s with pitchers hitting or by using the DH. There’s no reason they should be playing with different rulebooks.
Admittedly, between the two options, I would much rather have the DH in both leagues than watch pitchers hit for all 30 teams. It’s a rule change in baseball I’ve written about before, and have given a statistical look at why the DH should go to the NL, as well.
Editor’s note: This change obviously won’t happen in the MLB next year given that the new CBA was recently ratified, but it’s a move that needs to be made in the very near future.
Eliminate all ties
“You play to win the game!” – Herm Edwards
He didn’t say you play to go home with a tie! The man said, just like every other coach before and after him has said in one way, shape or form, you play to win.
Get rid of ties.
The NFL is a combination of the most burly, manliest men that mankind has to offer. Why does a league like that have the possibility to have games end in the wimpiest, dopiest of ways?
Why does the NHL – a league filled with men that are missing teeth because of how they sacrifice their bodies for the betterment of the team – include the possibility for games to end with the score even between the two teams?
Ties are dumb, simply put.
Have the NFL decided games with the score knotted up after regulation in one of two ways: 1) Change to the college football rules (or a variation of those rules), or 2) go to overtime, and if the game is still tied after OT, field goal kicking competition.
Not only would that be exciting, but it would make kickers a little more meaningful.
Playoff seedings determined by W/L record, not divisions
The NBA does its playoff seedings the right way. The NHL puts its own spin on it with points.
The MLB and NFL are stuck in the past, in this regard.
A discussion across many sports is how to make the regular season more meaningful. The NFL may only play 16 games, but with the NBA and NHL playing 82, and the MLB playing 162 contests, it sort of dilutes the regular season campaign, even for the most diehard of fan.
Here’s how you fix part of the problem. Have playoff seedings determined by win-loss records. Reward the teams that did the best with home-field advantage.
There’s no reason 11-3 Oakland should be a “wild card” team. There’s no reason that in 2015 the teams with the second and third best record in the NL in baseball should’ve matched up in the Wild Card game simply because they didn’t win a stacked division.
This isn’t me hating on the Wild Card game, by the way. I love wild card games.
It just makes the sport look dumb when teams with inferior records host a good team simply because the former plays in a weak division.
Here are three cases from the NFL alone:
- 2014 – Carolina (7-8-1) hosts a playoff game while a pair of 11-5 teams, Arizona and Detroit, had to go on the road, and Philadelphia (10-6) and San Francisco (8-8) both sat at home.
- 2013 – Green Bay (8-7-1) hosts a game in the first round while 12-4 San Francisco and 11-5 New Orleans had to go on the road.
- 2010 – Seattle (7-9) hosts 11-5 New Orleans in what became known as the Marshawn Lynch game.
What changes would you like to see happen in the world of sports? Comment below.