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Bob Dunning: Excitement in sports? Try these ideas

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From page A2 | September 12, 2013 | Leave Comment

Last month the brain trust that runs the National Football League decided to make the much-maligned Pro Bowl more “exciting” for fans, which means the door has finally been kicked wide open to make all sports more exciting for the armchair quarterbacks, wannabe point guards and would-be goalies of the world.
Yes, excitement is what sports are all about and it’s time the rules committees of the various leagues and officials of organized sports at multiple levels finally realize this.
The Pro Bowl, an alleged “all-star” game matching National Football League players from both the NFC and the AFC, hasn’t looked anything at all like football for years now. If the game weren’t held in Honolulu every year, no players would bother to show up.
According to a joint press release from the NFL and the players association, the completely cosmetic changes are an attempt to make the Pro Bowl “the ultimate fan-friendly celebration of the game.” It was either that or lower the price of Budweiser in the stadium.
According to the press release, there will now be a two-minute warning in every quarter because it will “increase the opportunities for quarterbacks to direct two-minute drills, which are especially exciting for fans.” If that’s the case, maybe they should divide up the entire 60 minutes of playing time into 30 “two-minute drills” and keep everyone happy.
Truth be told, the kickoff return is actually the most exciting feature of any football game, but contradicting the reason for the aforementioned two-minute drill, the NFL has eliminated all kickoffs and kickoff returns for the Pro Bowl. Hey, someone might get tackled and actually fall down, which wouldn’t be fun or exciting.
Hopefully, others will follow the NFL’s lead. Many, many of our so-called spectator sports are in dire need of tweaking.
Take tennis, for instance. The game has been absolutely destroyed by people who are able to hit unreturnable 150 mph serves because there’s no penalty whatsoever for missing your first serve. Limit these folks to just one serve and a whole different cast of characters will start taking home those massive gold trophies.
Baseball, meanwhile, is the only sport I know where nearly half the players who are currently in the game are sitting on a wooden bench texting their friends halfway across the country.
Like tennis, baseball also rewards incompetence. Why should a pitcher be allowed to throw three lousy pitches and still have a chance to get the batter out? Conversely, why should a batter be allowed to swing and miss at two perfectly hittable pitches and still be allowed to remain in the batter’s box?
Each “at bat” should be limited to one pitch. Stand there like a potted plant and take a strike, you’re out. Take a ball and walk to first. No second chances for anyone.
And how silly is golf, where you’re the only one who’s allowed to hit your ball? From now on, one ball per foursome. The referee drops the ball between the four players, much like a face-off in hockey, then everyone races to wherever the ball lands. First guy to hit it into the hole wins. Caddies head for the unemployment line.
Soccer would be dramatically improved by simply eliminating the goalie. Same for ice hockey, which is basically soccer on ice. Basketball should raise the basket to 15 feet and allow tackling in the key. Water polo needs to drain the pool and add roller skates. Javelin throwers should be required to hit moving targets, like mechanical rabbits. All marathon courses should be reduced to 0.26 of a mile and competitors required to run on stilts.
Triathlons should consist of weightlifting, hopscotch and downing 10 hot dogs in less than a minute. The Indy 500 should be run will all cars locked in reverse. The Kentucky Derby should be run without horses, causing jockeys to whip themselves as they sprint around the track.
The NFL started this trend. I intend to finish it.

— Reach Bob Dunning at bdunning@davisenterprise.net

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