You Make the Call

[I had planned a column for today on my new sandals, but over the weekend both of my ankles went down hardcore, and I am trying to rest as much as possible so it doesn't turn into another six weeks of not walking. In the meantime, I hope you'll be cool with some Classic Hypey. This one is from right after the Super Bowl in 2003, and is about things I'd change in sports. It's funny to read it now, for how much of this has become moot....and how much has not. Also, I have been working on a Sports Column of things I want different for about two months, so assuming that will drop sometime this month, this should be a good intro. I hope to be back soon with all new stuff, but until then keep checking back and of course Monkey Barn ALWAYS has new stuff, so go there often. - H]

The Hyperion Chronicles
“Dun dun dun dun! Dun dun dun Dun dun Dun Dun!”

#89 You Make The Call

I’m writing a series of chronicles on things I want changed in the world; Politics, Entertainment, the Media. Today is sports. If you love or even like sports a little, there will be something in here for you. If you hate sports with a passion usually reserved for the Snuggle Bear ®, read on anyway, and write and tell me to quit wasting your time.

Since the Super Bowl just happened, let’s talk about football. It shouldn’t be called football. Now, I know I have an uphill battle here, but I don’t think this because soccer had the name first (which it did). It’s because soccer has everything to do with feet, not football. Kicking is a small part of the game. Running, passing, tackling, and end-zone dances; these are the components we know and love. I’m willing to take any suggestions, but in the interim I propose Gridiron. This is already a nickname of the sport, and combines the toughness of iron with the grid that a football field looks like if you see it from above.

Next, I must mention what I’ve been harping on for over a year, and finally people are starting to listen. Overtime rules must be changed. To have it sudden death in this sport is inherently unfair. Giving each team a crack at scoring and then going to sudden death still has problems, but it would be better than what we have. I like what they do in college, except I would bring it from the 25 yard line to the 10 yard line, and give each team 4 downs to score. No field goals; just touchdowns, baby.

Now, as far as the Super Bowl itself, it’s okay, but it could be better. For one thing, the half-time entertainment sucks. I don’t need lip-synching stars looking dazed and confused. I would rather see a good comedian, or an entire scene from an upcoming hotly anticipated movie, like The Hulk, Terminator 3, or the Matrices. That would marry the sport with commercials even more, which seems to be what they want. And as far as commercials go, I want there to be some sort of competition there. We already have the best commercials available for this broadcast, and many people watch more for the commercials than for the game itself, which often is boring. How about letting the fans vote on the best commercial, and then giving it free airing at the end? That would keep people watching.

I suppose I should mention refereeing here. Of course, we don’t want to change it too much, because that wouldn’t give fans anything to complain about. In Gridiron (or football, if you troglodytes still prefer), the coaches get two challenges, and lose a time out if they are wrong, which is stupid, because if you’re correct you shouldn’t be punished by losing out on challenges. A better solution, however, would be to make everything reviewable. Have some guy up in the booth watching every single play, like we all do, and if there is a major lapse in judgment by the official, flag him and he can go look at it. Better yet, give him a set of specs attached to his hip that he can put on and see the play. This sounds futuristic, but they already can do it. This way, play isn’t interrupted for anything, and we’d barely notice it. Best of all, they’d get it right.

As for other sports, they could have a modified form of this, but for the most part you’d want to leave well enough alone. The judgment of officials is what makes the calls. Was it a foul? That sort of thing. An exception to this would be tennis, where virtually none of the calls is human-necessary. They could get machines to monitor all the lines, or even put the machines in the lines, and the game would be better for it.

And speaking of tennis, both it and golf should grow up and quit trying to be rich country club sports. What I mean by this is that fan participation is what separates a sport from a hobby. Golfers and tennis players should learn to deal with cheering fans. And they should have cheerleaders. In fact, there should be cheerleaders for every sport, even for the girls. They deserve cheerleaders too! And, of course I mean women cheerleaders. Because, while I’m as open-minded as anyone, not even women want to watch men prance around in short skirts and pom-poms.

Baseball (which also needs cheerleaders, by the way) could stand a few changes. First and foremost, get rid of the DH. Pitchers will be more careful if they have to bat and take the heat for what they do on the mound. Plus, with pitchers, there are more bunting, stealing, and hit-and-run situations, and that always makes the game more exciting. As for the All-star debacle of last year, it would seem to me to be easy to solve by A) telling reserves that the honor is making the squad and this isn’t like T-Ball, where everyone is guaranteed to play and B) like T-Ball, allow players to be brought back in once they’ve been taken out. This isn’t a real game, and if it goes into extra innings, fans want to see the best players out there, who for the most part play the first couple of innings. The other thing I wish they’d do something with is walks. I hate the Intentional Walk. I don’t have a better solution right now, but it seems to me to take away the integrity of the game. At the very least, they should have to walk a guy while pitching to the plate. They shouldn’t be able to stand up and intentionally walk someone. That’s horrible.

I think team names, mascots, and team uniforms should be up to the fans. Some are institutions, and the fans would never dream of changing them. I suppose “Da Bears!” will never be “Da Platypuses!” Fine. But there are some names that could use some variety. I personally will financially bankroll any team or school that names themselves the Jedi Dwarves. Don’t even get me started on those ethnic team names. And those uniforms! Ugh. Who designs these things? Where are the men with fashion sense? Please help us out.

In Monopoly, I want Free Parking to officially have money. Most people I know (who aren’t evil, anyway) already play by this rule, and it should be official. And while I’m talking about board games, why can’t there be coffee houses and bars that specialize in board games. Rather than go to some smoky bar where the only entertainment might be darts or hitting balls with cue sticks (two things alcohol does not improve), I wish there was a place to go where there were games everywhere. Card tables, board games, a big giant crossword puzzle on the wall. This would be a much better way to meet people, if you’re single, and a cool hang out spot. Can somebody make this happen for me?

I want them to bring back “You make the Call.” Remember that? They would show a play from a game in the past, and ask you what the person did. Then a commercial, for AT&T, or something, then back to see if you were right. I miss that.

I want boxing and figure skating cleaned up. Both exist in the shadowy world of mob-run horse racing. I want to know who the judges are, how they got to be judges, and what their qualifications are. For figure skating, I want the rules of how they are judging clearly posted, so that people know what the criteria are, and can have some idea of what they’re looking at. We know what we like or what is pretty, and we can tell when someone falls, but most of the time we’re left with the announcers, and who knows what’s going on? It seems that judges more often score by reputation and by who skates last than by any objective standards. In boxing, I don’t want the promoter to be able to select the judges. Most importantly, in a heavyweight Championship fights; I want the winner to be decided by knockout, no matter how many rounds it takes. That used to be the way they did it. That’s surely what the fans want. This way we’d also help eliminate corrupt judging. We’d know someone was truly the winner because the other guy would be on the floor.

And while I’m on the subject of Olympic-style events, I want to see knife-throwing contests on TV, and possibly in the Olympics. I want them to go back to the Robin-Hood era free-bow and arrow competitions, and not those pulley things that look like they are lugging painters up the side of the building. I want to see more sword fighting, and not just the tiny thin swords that look like car antennas. I want broad swords in the Olympics, like Conan and He-Man would use. Most importantly, I want freakin' light sabers. I know we have the technology to do this. And everyone on the planet (with the possible exception of France and Germany, but they suck anyway) would love to see Light Saber duels. How ‘bout it, Science?

Professional Dodgeball: its time has come.

Now, I realize this isn’t a sport, but how about some respect for wrestling? I don’t watch it anymore like I did as a kid, I but can appreciate the effort. Yes, the result is fixed, but you’re looking at it the wrong way. These are actors, like any soap opera or sitcom, and they are doing very athletic things. They have to be phenomenal athletes not to kill each other with the moves they are doing! And to stay in character the whole time? Let’s see the Emmys reward them!

I want more competitions where things are shot out of cannons and other propulsion devices. This is the new ESPN 4 craze. They already have pumpkins, but I want turkeys, cars, congressional staffers; anything you can think of. Who wouldn’t watch this?

Finally, college athletics needs to be overhauled. The athletes are making so much money for their schools, and not seeing any back, it’s hard to blame a 20 year old kid who takes some cash. It’s still wrong, but it’s made worse by the NCAA’s draconian policy of not letting the kids even have a part-time job. I want basketball and football athletes (which is where the money is; no one is slipping the fencing team a little bling-bling) to get paid a stipend. Nothing huge, but enough so they can get a pizza with the guys or call home once in a while. This would alleviate some of the pressure that the constant money creates. I also hate it that an athlete has to sit out a year if he or she transfers, but coaches can leave on a whim. I understand the rule for athletes, so they don’t transfer at a moment’s notice, and ruin programs, but I say if a coach who promised he’d be there takes off for another school, the players should be let out of their scholarships without penalty if they want to transfer.

Most importantly, though, is the hated BCS. For those of you living under rocks (even fraggle rocks), The BCS is the system the NCAA came up with to determine its Division 1 football champion. The BCS combines aspects of the stock market, politics, and voodoo, to give us these formulas that would make Einstein give up math and just read pornography. Every other college sport, including the other divisions of college football, can come up with a playoff to determine its champion. The NCAA doesn’t want to because of the money. Well, let’s hit them where they live. I want George Bush to threaten to cut federal funding to every school that participates in this vile institution. That will get some people moving in a hurry.

Well, I have more, but I’m all out of anger at the moment, and if I make this any longer my mom will complain. Write and tell me where I messed up, and what I missed, and I’ll include it, if it’s any good.

Until then, keep fighting the good fight. Just play by the rules.

January 27, 2003

Brainstorming help from Troll and Dominique
Structure and Editing help from Bear

1 comment:

Erica said...

It's funny how much of this has already been changed. But re:college athletes--they do get stipends from the universities! At least at my school, athletes got $100 per week to spend anywhere on campus that they wanted (we had a residential campus). It expired on Wednesdays (and was replenished on Thursdays) so you always saw the athletes going nuts on Wednesdays at the bookstore, the grocery store, the Pub. Plus they got all the free school clothing they could handle, and all of their meals were paid for. They got free housing. And a free freaking education! I think paying them beyond floating these bills is unnecessary.