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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014

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In Sports Commentary

All sports could use a rule change to make the games better. (PHOTO: shutterstock.com )

One change to rule them all


I absolutely love sports. Almost all sports. The competition and physical and mental excellence, the struggle for the goal of victory.

There's something almost primal about it, but there is no perfect sport. Every single game can be improved. There are lots of ideas from lots of people about how to change a sport and make it better.

Sometimes it seems the sheer number of suggested changes would turn the sport into something nobody recognizes.

So today is a day to propose change. But just one. No laundry list of "they should do this and that and this and that."

One change that I think will make the sport a better experience, for fans and perhaps also for the athletes, although the focus is on how to make it a better game and experience for the fans.

Football – The NFL should move the kickoff back to the 20-yard line. When kickoffs were moved from the 30 and then to the 35, it eliminated one of the most exciting plays in the game: the kickoff return. I understand safety concerns, but I don't watch football to see safety. I watch it to see speed and strength and skill. If safety is your issue, only allow blocking above the waist. Rather than eliminate kickoff returns, I'd like to see the league encourage them.

Baseball – I'm not a rabid baseball fan, but I like the game with one exception: it can take forever. This isn't a new idea but baseball should introduce a pitch clock, just like the shot clock in basketball. It seems a pitcher ought to be able to get his signal, spit, check the runner on base and throw the ball in about 30 seconds.

Basketball – Basketball is just about the perfect sport. The best athletes. Speed and power. Strategy and attention to detail. But one thing that might add even more excitement to an already exciting game is to establish a 4-point line. It seems to me that while it's not going to be a regular part of a team's offense, there would be times when it could prove valuable, like trying to tie a game at the end or finding the world's greatest shooter who can stand out there and drill them. Just think of the possibilities.

Golf – Allow and encourage cheering at professional tournaments. Part of the reason golf suffers is that golfers demand the kind of reverential silence usually reserved for a cloister of monks. If you sneeze while some guy is lining up his shot, you stand a chance of getting escorted off the course. Let's have cheering and maybe even trash talking between competitors. Take the handcuffs off and let's see who can cope.

Tennis – Make the service box smaller and widen the court. It would put a premium on getting your serve in and take something away from the big serve players who can dominate with one shot. And by widening the court these athletes will be pushed even harder to cover it. Tennis players are among of the best conditioned athletes in the world and I'd like to see them play to their maximum capacity.

Soccer – Go to video for controversial calls. You don't need a challenge system – just put an official in a booth with a television. If he sees something wrong, change it. Soccer has too many instances of controversies that lead to mayhem in the stands.

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