3 October 2012

Horse Racing Isn't The Only Game That Can Improve

On this blog, I've been known to be very critical of how horse racing. It isn't because I like to complain, it is because I love the game and want to see it grow. I don't just focus on the problems, but I also offer solutions.

I'm going to diversify my criticism now by identifying problems and also give solutions for the four major sports.

I used to be a sports fanatic. I think I may have missed only a handful of Toronto Maple Leaf games on TV from age 4-21.

I got into baseball too, not so much as a spectator, until the Expos got a franchise and had some TV exposure other than Saturdays when I was usually at the track with at least one of my parents.

I always was an NFL fan, never the CFL (inferior game with with inferior rules). And same with basketball, which was the only sport I actually excelled at (trying not to be too modest).

I started betting on sports in the mid 70's while in my mid teens. It made the games more interesting, and I found it to be a good connect since I was always into stats. My betting on sports and poker probably hit a peak by the time I hit 25. I still bet a little but focused more on just horse racing.

I started losing my interest in 3 of the major sports (hockey, baseball, and basketball) by the time I was in my late 30's. A lot of it had to do with other priorities and being tired of spinning my wheels when I bet the odd game, but it also had to do with the games themselves and player loyalty. The blame shouldn't be on the players, but the system that allows players to be lured to play for other teams.

When the Blue Jays won their last championship and half the team exited for greener pastures, I gave up on baseball. There were other reasons too, which I'll cover.

As for hockey, I gave up on it when the Leafs traded Steve Sullivan. I've always been a big fan of the finesse player and hockey seemed to be focused on size. To me, it lost its personality. The overtime rules also made me grimace.

I lasted with basketball longer. But when Vince Carter whined his way out of Toronto, I gave up on it as well. Again, too many roster changes for my liking all in the pursuit of the green back.

The NFL however has been a staple in my life and continues to be. I don't bet on it anymore, except for Fantasy Football (which is a form of betting), that is. Players can still stick with a team for their entire career, or at least most of it. I'm not sure why that is (I don't look really look at the rules of free agency in each sport or salary caps, etc.), but the other major sports should adopt the same exact policies that the NFL has.

The NFL has never been shy about making changes to appease the fans and also to make the game safer for the players.

I'd say that integrity of the sport is well looked after in all four sports (on a scale of 1 to 10, the NFL would be a 10 and horse racing would be a 1).

Here is how I would improve each of the four major sports (and if implemented, I could be won back as a fanatic):

Flaw: Player loyalty
Solution: Adopt NFL rules

Flaw: Overtime rules; Giving each team a point after regulation time if there is a tie. This rule makes me sick. It is Far Far Leftist mentality, something that I can't live with. I'm no fan of the Far Right either:)

Solution: No point for a tie. No more ties ever. Play sudden death 3 onto 3 (not including the goalie) until a goal is scored. No friggin shootouts either. 3 on 3 play almost guarantees the game won't go on forever either, which I think is one of the major concerns the league has. It will also force teams to have finesse players in the lineup.

Flaw: Player loyalty
Solution: Adopt NFL rules

Flaw: The strike zone and the foul lines. I sat behind the plate of a Blue Jay game and couldn't believe how far out to lunch the umpire was. His strike zone was a good foot to the left of the plate. We have the technology available, strikes and fouls should not determined by subjectivity but objectivity. I don't mind beeps when a ball ends up in the catchers glove to determine whether that ball was in the strike zone or not. Laser technology needs to be implemented to win me over.

Flaw: Player loyalty
Solution: Adopt NFL rules

Flaw: Too many dunks. James Naismith wouldn't even imagine dunking when he invented the sport, and even though it was cool in the early 70's it makes the game boring now.
Solution: My gut reaction has always been to raise the basketball height to 11 feet, but that is just wrong, plus it will discourage young kids from ever playing because the height of the basket will created too much awkwardness when it comes to learning the game. I think a better proposal would be to make a dunk shot worth only one point. I really think that would stop dunking and make the game more pure.


Flaw: Tough to find a flaw, but I did. Extra points are too easy. So far this year, there has been only one miss (not sure about how many non attempts due to bad snaps, but it isn't more than a handful). It is a scoring play that totally lacks drama.

Solution: Kick the extra point from the 23, making it a 40 yard kick. Sure, most will be converted, but many will be blocked or missed. No more gimmes. As for the two point conversion, yes, it is a little more exciting, but it rubs me the wrong way as it takes the kicker out of the equation. I like the concept of opting for two points, so the simple answer is to give the team the option to convert a kick from the 35 (a 52 yard boot). Oh, and I hate the freezing the kicker nonsense. It makes the game more juvenile than it has to, kind of insults my sports intelligence. Plus, I don't think it is advantageous at all (I think the percentages are pretty constant with or without the freeze). Unless it is to prevent too many men on the field, I would bar the opposing team from calling a time out to freeze the kicker.

I'll take on horse racing in the very near future:)

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