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?

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Members have made 30 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Mark Wilson Member

    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.

    • #1
    • August 11, 2013 at 1:26 am
  2. Profile photo of Polyphemus Member

    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.

    • #2
    • August 11, 2013 at 1:27 am
  3. Profile photo of Joe Fremeau Member

    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.

    • #3
    • August 11, 2013 at 2:37 am
  4. Profile photo of Joe Fremeau Member

    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.

    • #4
    • August 11, 2013 at 2:50 am
  5. Profile photo of genferei Member

    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.

    • #5
    • August 11, 2013 at 3:03 am
  6. Profile photo of Mr Tall Member

    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.

    • #6
    • August 11, 2013 at 3:07 am
  7. Profile photo of ctlaw Thatcher
    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.]

    • #7
    • August 11, 2013 at 3:19 am
  8. Profile photo of Joe Fremeau Member
    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

    • #8
    • August 11, 2013 at 3:35 am
  9. Profile photo of Nealfred Member

    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.

    • #9
    • August 11, 2013 at 3:54 am
  10. Profile photo of Peter Meza Member

    How about a new sport altogether?

    • #10
    • August 11, 2013 at 5:25 am
  11. Profile photo of Johnny Dubya Member

    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.

    • #11
    • August 11, 2013 at 6:27 am
  12. Profile photo of Carver Member

    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…

    • #12
    • August 11, 2013 at 6:36 am
  13. Profile photo of Mark Monaghan Member

    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.

    • #13
    • August 11, 2013 at 6:53 am
  14. Profile photo of outstripp Inactive

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

    • #14
    • August 11, 2013 at 7:07 am
  15. Profile photo of Wade Moore Member
    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.

    • #15
    • August 11, 2013 at 7:20 am
  16. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member
    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.

    • #16
    • August 11, 2013 at 7:30 am
  17. Profile photo of genferei Member

    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…

    • #17
    • August 11, 2013 at 7:42 am
  18. Profile photo of genferei Member

    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.

    • #18
    • August 11, 2013 at 7:54 am
  19. Profile photo of Wade Moore Member

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

    • #19
    • August 11, 2013 at 8:02 am
  20. Profile photo of Son of Spengler Member

    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).

    • #20
    • August 11, 2013 at 10:53 am
  21. Profile photo of EThompson Inactive
    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. · 9 hours ago

    Read Michael Lewis’ Moneyball and then get back to me. There is an enormous amount of drama percolating beneath the surface, particularly between a pitcher and a batter. After going to baseball games for years, I never truly understood this until I read about Billy Beane and his Oakland A’s.

    • #21
    • August 11, 2013 at 11:15 am
  22. Profile photo of Koblog Member

    Basketball: fouls cannot become offensive weapons/tactics. A foul needs to have consequences. As it is, a foul can 1) stop a 3-point shot; 2) stop a 2-point shot; stop the clock and more. A foul should not be able to help you. Football: 1) incomplete forward passes should remain live, just as incomplete lateral passes are live. 2) Agree with Letterman: get rid of the punt. This will increase scoring. 3) increase the number of TV timeouts so we can see more Geico commercials. Tennis and golf: allow fans to cheer. Why do these wusses get to have complete silence during their games? You think it’s easier to hit a professional pitch in the bottom of the ninth, trailing by one with two out and two on, than a stationary golf ball? Gimme a break. Curling: players can wear spikes and hit opposing teams with their brooms.

    • #22
    • August 11, 2013 at 11:48 am
  23. Profile photo of Antiphon Inactive
    genferei: Soccer: the only persons allowed to talk to the referee without being spoken to are the captains –

    Ha, have you seen the Italian or Spanish leagues? They absolutely mob the ref.

    I like where he’s going with this. Although I’m a traditionalist when it comes to baseball

    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.

    As a longtime American fan of soccer I was always struck how fans of American sports hold up scoring as the metric of an “exciting” sport. Baseball especially suffers from innumerable stoppages in play, and can’t really be compared with soccer which has a continuous run of play.

    Soccer fans will describe good ‘saves’, ‘shots’, ‘set pieces’ – same as baseball – but a scoreless soccer game can be just as good because of the skill you saw on the field, the runs of play, etc. – you usually can’t say that of baseball.

    • #23
    • August 12, 2013 at 3:21 am
  24. Profile photo of Jimmy Carter Member

    NASCAR drivers must maintain a minimum blood alcohol level of 0.10.

    • #24
    • August 12, 2013 at 4:41 am
  25. Profile photo of Mark Wilson Member
    Antiphon

    Soccer fans will describe good ‘saves’, ‘shots’, ‘set pieces’ – same as baseball – but a scoreless soccer game can be just as good because of the skill you saw on the field, the runs of play, etc. – you usually can’t say that of baseball. · 2 hours ago

    I’m sure there are lousy scoreless soccer games just as there are poorly played low scoring baseball games. But the other side of the coin is the no-hitter, the perfect game, or the pitcher with 16 K’s. And there is this game.

    • #25
    • August 12, 2013 at 6:33 am
  26. Profile photo of Brandon Shafer Thatcher
    Basketball: No shorts that are roomy enough to conceal spare basketballs should be permitted. 17 hours ago

    Yes! Not that they have to go back to short-shorts but the pants masquerading as shorts are way too long.

    • #26
    • August 12, 2013 at 7:42 am
  27. Profile photo of Ross C Member

    Football – Kickoffs are mostly boring.

    Basketball – Hackashaq is a boring strategy and they should do more there.

    Basketball – how about a half court shot for 5 points?

    Tennis – No 5 set matches.

    • #27
    • August 12, 2013 at 9:40 am
  28. Profile photo of Mark Wilson Member

    Koblog:

    You’re right on about basketball fouls.

    But keeping a forward pass alive in football would result in the death of the mid- to long-yardage passing game. The risk of a turnover on every play would be way too high.

    On getting rid of the punt, I don’t know anyone who thinks football needs an increase in scoring.

    But I have been trying to figure out a way to get rid of the false start penalty for years, without destroying the incentive system in the game. False starts are so terribly disruptive and frustrating, not to mention anticlimactic. You’ve got a game where 300 lb players collide at high speed, yet the outcome of drives and even entire games hinges on whether somebody twitches his arm too early.

    • #28
    • August 12, 2013 at 12:06 pm
  29. Profile photo of Richard Finlay Member

    football: place the ball on a yardline; advancing the ball must be in whole yards. If the ball isn’t advanced a yard, it goes back to where it was. 1.5 yards = 1 yard advance, etc. Take away the 2-inch lunge for a first down.

    If an incomplete forward pass were a live ball, there would be no incomplete forward pass except for out-of-bounds. The ball could be thrown downfield with a scramble by receivers/defenders to recover. Probably more interesting than a punt.

    Barring that, any pass behind the line of scrimmage should be treated as a lateral — live ball.

    Legalize holding in pass protection. It happens anyway, negates otherwise good plays, and necessitates all kinds of restrictions to protect the quarterback. The best protection for the quarterback is holding by the linemen.

    Amen to reducing head protection. The better the helmet, the harder they hit with their heads, causing more damage than the old leather helmets allowed. I’d remove the shoulder pads, too. No protective gear that can be used as a weapon.

    • #29
    • August 14, 2013 at 1:12 am
  30. Profile photo of Richard Finlay Member

    more football. Eliminate the coinflip. Give the ball (or option) to the visiting team in the first half and the home team in the second half.

    • #30
    • August 14, 2013 at 1:13 am