Item 1: Challenge Flags
I have to begin by supporting the often ridiculed NBA new rule for giving technical fouls for complaining to referees. If there is one thing that emasculates a sports icon is watching him complain like a 12 year old over a call that he thinks is unfair. At the moment, this tactic seems to work, although not completely. Superstar players seem to get more leeway, as they do with personal fouls.
To fix this problem, I looked at other sports, such as American Football, where referees don’t take nearly as much abuse from players and coaches as referees in basketball. Football coaches have something that basketball coaches don’t… challenge flags.
The challenge flag in football has created a system in which to review bad, often game changing calls. The system works well enough to keep coaches in check, allowing them some freedom to complain, but puts a limit on how many times the referees can be called in question. Basketball already limits the number of personal fouls a player can have, how many time-outs a team can call, why not put a limit on how many times a coach can jump up and freak out?
My solution: The Bobby Knight challenge chair. Each coach gets two red painted metal folding chairs a game, able to throw it on the court to challenge a call. No-calls are unchallengeable. Challenges that are not overturned result in a technical given to the coaching staff. Coaches who are out of order without throwing the chair get tossed. This probably wont do anything to change how players and coaches treat referees, but it would be very entertaining.
Item 2: Batting Box
Baseball is slow. Sometimes nine innings can last 4 hours or more. Sometimes this can make things uninteresting and unwatchable. Most of the problem is with hitters. A batter is able to step out of the box between pitches and hold everything up while he adjusts and readjusts himself, take a few swings, get comfortable, before stepping back into the box. Waste of time! Isn’t this what the on-deck circle is for, to get a batter ready to face the pitcher?
My solution: No stepping out. A batter can foul off as many balls as he wants, like Wade Boggs, to waste time, but he better be in the box ready for anything and swinging. Take time to fix your gloves while you watch your foul ball smack into the crowd in the upper deck. The consequence for holding up the arena while you adjust yourself… STRIKE! Just like a foul ball. You get two strikes for the first two times you step out of the box. I’m betting hitters will realize how comfortable and ready they are between pitches when they’re down a few strikes in the pitch count.
Item 3: “Kansas Playoff” Football Overtime
Currently, overtime in NCAA football is a joke. Also known as a Kansas Playoff, this overtime structure is used in NCAA, and high school, and Canadian league play. The idea is each team gets a chance to score from between 10 and 35 yards from the goal-line (depending on the league). The play keeps flip-flopping from offense to offense until there is a winner. Not so much fun to watch for fans, and has the potential to last forever.
My solution: kick-off
I looked to soccer and hockey for a better overtime system. In soccer and hockey, there is an overtime period, shorter than a normal half or period, and then after that, if there is still no clear winner, the teams go into a shoot-out. The team with the most goals at the end of the shoot-out gets the win. Pretty simple, fun to watch. The game is over in a predictable time period.
Now… how to use a shoot-out style overtime in football? Special teams! After a tie in regulation, each team gets a chance to score like in normal Kansas Playoff style. If there is still a tie after one round, the special teams take the field. Each field goal team takes turns kicking extra points through the uprights, and the defense gets to try and block the kick. If each team makes their kick, the next round starts ten yards back from the last kick: 10 yards the first round, 20 yards the second, 30 yards the third, etc, etc, until one team makes it and the other misses, like a shoot-out. Special teams would be more important than ever before and kickers will be heroes!
There is another sports blogger, much better than me, that has similar feelings towards these sorts of things. See Tom Jones and his 2 Cents.