And for Luge, Bonus Points Just for Participating

In the latest season of Jerry Seinfeld’s online schmoozefest, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, one of his guests is David Letterman. During their conversation, the subject of football happened to arise, and Letterman apprised Seinfeld of a few changes he thinks would markedly improve the game:

I think they should get rid of timeouts. I think they should get rid of punts. And also, I think they should be allowed to play as many guys at once as they’d like. If you’ve got a play for forty guys, send ‘em in. Your team gets three successive first downs. You then have the option of running a play with two balls.

I like where he’s going with this. Although I’m a traditionalist when it comes to baseball, I’m all for changing pretty much every other game in existence. To wit:

Soccer: There should no longer be any such thing as ending a game with no score. A game that ends with no score is existentially weird, and very boring. If no score is achieved after an hour and a half, the game should be decided by tug-of-war.

Tennis: Animal grunts should be met with a two-point penalty.

Basketball: No shorts that are roomy enough to conceal spare basketballs should be permitted. 

Swimming: The meter restriction currently in place on that thing they do when they dive in and then undulate like fish before breaking the surface should be lifted immediately. More undulating, I say.

Gymnastics: A few extra tenths should be awarded for hang time. Gymnasts on the floor exercise, when they’re at the top of their game, sometimes seem to slow down in midair, the way Baryshnikov used to during a grand jete.  That should be worth something.

Skating: No feathers for male skaters under any circumstances. Sequins, however, are A-OK. Similarly, mascara and eyeliner are fine, but lip gloss and rouge should be met with a three-tenths’ deduction.

How about you? Any sport improvements you wish you could make?

  1. Mark Wilson

    I think soccer should modify the offside rule.  If the ball is within, say 18 or 25 yards of the goal, there should be no offside.  There is nothing more ridiculous than a goal being disallowed for an offside ruling when the offending player was standing inside the penalty area a few feet from a defender.  Offside should be in place to prevent cherry-picking, not to micromanage the placement of strikers and force them to follow the defenders like lost puppies.

  2. Polyphemus

    Forget your baseball exception. This boring game should allow baserunners to carry their bat with them and infielders should be allowed to construct bobby traps and defensive fortifications around their base.

  3. Joe Fremeau

    Soccer would be way, way more entertaining if there were two balls on the field at all times.

    That might be true for a lot of sports, actually, but we should try it with soccer first.

  4. Joe Fremeau

    In an entirely different vein, Bill Simmons once complained that the Australian Open in tennis and the PGA Championship in golf lacked an identity of their own when compared to the other three majors in their sports.  He suggested that they rebrand themselves as “The Loud Majors,” and the crowds be encouraged to cheer raucously at all times during play.

  5. genferei

    Football: no helmets, minimal pads, no forward pass, don’t stop playing after a tackle, no blocking, replace the line of scrimmage and the snap with organized pushing or jumping contests, offside if you’re in front of your own player when they play the ball, fifteen players a side.

  6. Mr Tall

    I also think baseball should not be left alone, and I’m pretty much a baseball purist. Today’s games are too slow-paced and long.

    I was a pitcher in high school, and I liked to work fast. I think many pitchers feel the same way (although there are of course exceptions). Batters these days have too much latitude to take time-outs and step out of the batter’s box for lengthy equipment checks, good-luck rituals, and the like. It slows the game down terribly. 

    I think once a batter is up, there should be a limit on the times he can step out/call time-out — maybe once per at bat, or maybe each team should be limited to a certain number each inning. 

    I also would not mind seeing tighter limits placed on pitchers in terms of how long they have to deliver a pitch to the plate once they have the ball.

  7. ctlaw
    Judith Levy, Ed.:

    Swimming:The meter restriction currently in place on that thing they do when they dive in and then undulate like fish before breaking the surface should be lifted immediately. More undulating, I say. [Eliminate all form requirements other than staying in lane. No separate events for different strokes.]

    Skating: No feathers for male skaters under any circumstances. Sequins, however, are A-OK. Similarly, mascara and eyeliner are fine, but lip gloss and rouge should be met with a three-tenths’ deduction. [Putin will take care of this one.]

  8. Joe Fremeau
    ctlaw

    Swimming: [Eliminate all form requirements other than staying in lane. No separate events for different strokes.]

    4 minutes ago

    Yes! I’ve been saying this for years.  Why should I care about who can swim faster using an inherently slower stroke in the first place?  The 100m butterfly is the equivalent of the 100m dash on your knees.

    On the other hand, if you want the swimming equivalent of the hurdles in track and field, you could require the swimmers to navigate croquet-wicket-type hoops at the bottom of the pool

  9. Nealfred

    Didn’t Carlin do this once? I find both Letterman and Seinfeld very unfunny! Really, if I happen to watch these guys for a few “Quips” I find myself shaking my head and just wanting to beat the crap out of them.

  10. Peter Meza

    How about a new sport altogether?

  11. Johnny Dubya

    As I mentioned elsewhere on the site a couple of days ago, the soccer goal should be increased in size by 50%. Why millions across the globe would want to watch passing and running and ball-handling with little scoring is a mystery.Baseball should have a pitch clock like basketball’s shot clock. It would be fun for a couple of MLB teams to play “speed baseball” as an experiment.

  12. Carver

    So, Rugby in other words?

    genferei: Football: no helmets, minimal pads, no forward pass, don’t stop playing after a tackle, no blocking, replace the line of scrimmage and the snap with organized pushing or jumping contests, offside if you’re in front of your own player when they play the ball, fifteen players a side. · 2 hours ago

    But basketball needs the most modification. How about one minute games for starters – since they almost always come down to the last minute anyway. Just start with 80 points and give ‘em a minute. You could play the whole season in a weekend tournament. But if you must play for the full allotment, how about multiple goals at successively greater heights and point values? Diverters under the baskets could cause pachinko like multiple scores. BTW, leave the shorts alone it isn’t basket balls being concealed.

    punctuation edit…

  13. Mark Monaghan

    Hockey: should be played on a rink shaped like a three cornered hat with three goals and three teams. Ditto soccer. Basketball: the rim should oscillate signficantly, maybe by 50% of it’s diameter . Football: no facemasks. This alone will eliminate the use of the head as a weapon and drastically reduce concussions. Swimming: all events should be held in open water with significant chumming. Cycling: checking should be encouraged.

  14. outstripp

    No players with funny foreign-sounding names, except in the Olympics.

  15. Wade Moore
    genferei: Football: no helmets, minimal pads, no forward pass, don’t stop playing after a tackle, no blocking, replace the line of scrimmage and the snap with organized pushing or jumping contests, offside if you’re in front of your own player when they play the ball, fifteen players a side. · 4 hours ago

     They already have that…it’s called rugby.

  16. tabula rasa
    Wade Moore

    genferei: Football: no helmets, minimal pads, no forward pass, don’t stop playing after a tackle, no blocking, replace the line of scrimmage and the snap with organized pushing or jumping contests, offside if you’re in front of your own player when they play the ball, fifteen players a side. · 4 hours ago

     They already have that…it’s called rugby. · 4 minutes ago

    Agreed.  Rugby players also wear short shorts.

  17. genferei

    Soccer: the only persons allowed to talk to the referee without being spoken to are the captains – any infringement is an automatic yellow card; any dissent from a referee’s decision earns an automatic red card.

    Carver: So, Rugby in other words?

    genferei: Football: no helmets…

    Now that you mention it…

  18. genferei

    I actually think baseball is fine as it is. But if we’re making changes:

    Inject a bit more action. Have two batters up at the same time. Halve the number of bases. Require that the whole team be struck out before the innings is over. But reduce the strikes to one. To remove doubt about whether the pitch was a legitimate strike install some mechanism for automatically detecting the strike zone, but make it low-tech so it can be used everywhere, like some sticks stuck in the ground with some cross sticks over the top to detect movement. Rotate the play between home plate and first (and now only) base. This means moving the bases into the middle of the field, so you can have better seating arrangements. Score a run each time each batter makes it to the other base, but require that both batters do this. If the ball makes it over the outfield fence score six runs; score four if the ball reaches the fence at all. Instead of protecting batters by making it a ball to hit them, protect batters by having them wear padding.

  19. Wade Moore

    Ha.  You shoudl move to England.  I think they have everything you are looking for over there…

  20. Son of Spengler

    Ice hockey: Double the width & length of the playing surface (i.e., quadruple the area), and double the width of the goal.

    Basketball: Likewise. Alternatively, I’d love to see professional 2-on-2 or 3-on-3 on a standard-size court (similar in principle to beach volleyball as a variant of standard volleyball).

    Baseball: In interleague play, play under the visiting team’s rules. Also, it would be interesting to allow the teams to set the order of their opponents’ lineups (though not the players).

    Judged sports: Have the other competitors get a vote in the scoring – a kind of peer review (or Machiavellian reality-TV-type strategizing).