Sports, collectively, might be the most popular source of entertainment in America.They’re basically saving the television industry as we know it. Very rich people open up their very large checkbooks to pay for everything from rights fees and team ownership, to season tickets, League Pass and more.
It would seem like sports are, more or less, perfect.
Yet for some reason, it seems like we’re doing everything we can to change them.
Major League Baseball, which is desperately trying to attract viewers who can’t answer the question “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?”, has tested out a handful of rules to speed up the games this spring training. Not only is it apparently not working, umpires are more or less ignoring the changes.
The National Football League’s owners are meeting this week in Arizona, and all of a sudden the hottest topic in the league is about changing extra points.
After the most unwatchable season in perhaps the history of college basketball, the NCAA is experimenting shortening the shot clock and widening the restricted-area arc to try and “open up the game.”
All of these possible changes have at least given us something to talk about…but why not think bigger? If you want to really enact change, you have to be BOLD!
Let’s really shake things up. You want more viewers? Make some real changes.
There have been plenty of failed attempts to create what I call “Spinoff Sports”.
The XFL started off hot, but cooled quickly and folded after a year.
And then there was SLAMBALL.
After watching that clip, all I can say is WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
Instead of accepting the fact that Slamball is an idea as ludicrous as it is brilliant that can basically print its own money with TV deals, these jokers turned down the chance to become THE NEXT WWE because it would make them “lose credibility.” Then some other guy has the balls to actually mention the word “olympics.” Considering they don’t even have wrestling in the olympics anymore, I don’t think Slamball will make the cut anytime soon.
The only real spinoff sport that’s found sustained success is the Arena Football League. Even the AFL has had its ups and downs, but for more than 20 years it’s been able to stay afloat and whet the appetite of this football-crazed country during the NFL’s off-season.
What do Slamball and Arena Football have in common? They took two immensely popular sports and made just a few MAJOR changes to the rules/playing surface to create games that attract viewers. Attracting viewers means attracting money. We like money.
So here’s what I’m going to do: take a game we all love and change it in a completely irrational and utterly ridiculous way to make it even better. Here are a few really dumb, but kinda cool ideas for other sports spinoffs that need to happen soon:
This is simple but probably my favorite. It’s like regular basketball, but instead of one hoop in the center of the lane, put two hoops on each end in the corners. Here’s the catch: it’s only on one end of the court, so each team gets one half to shoot on the double-basket end. The only other change to the floor you’d have to make is to the three-point line. Otherwise what used to be a corner three is suddenly a lay-up. Pretty awesome right?
Let’s talk strategy. On offense, how do you space the floor? Say goodbye to “rim protectors.” Teams could not afford to stick it’s biggest guy underneath the basket because, well, there are two baskets. To be honest, it might make centers obsolete. You need fast, athletic guys who are a threat to move across the court and score on either basket. Just when it looks like you’re heading to one hoop, BOOM — cross-court alley-oop time.
I would think the game would start with a coin toss like football so one team has the option to use the double-basket end during the first half or second half.
(I’m more than willing to take suggestions for a better name. Basketballs doesn’t make much sense, or BasketBasketBall, Basketball Basketball…they all suck.)
ONE STRIKE BASEBALL
This is a change that MLB should make today. You want to speed up the game? No more four-balls three-strikes nonsense. You get one ball and one strike. Start swinging the bats boys. Pitchers, you better put the ball over the plate, lest you load the bases on three straight pitches off the black.
Oh, and also, steroids are 200% legal here.
You think watching pitchers throw meat to batters who are juiced out of their mind wouldn’t instantly make baseball 100 times more watchable?
Get Rob Manfred on the phone.
I’m stealing this from the clip above. Let’s start the movement.
One of my favorite halftime “acts” I’ve ever seen was at an NHL game. As soon as the period ended, out poured literally 75 elementary school children in full uniform and they dropped a puck. It was pure and wonderful chaos. Ten minutes of 60-pound munchkins on skates with giant wooden sticks and a single slab of concrete sliding across the ice.
You can literally take anything in the world and it’s 100 times funnier when children are doing it. Talking, running, eating, everything. Why not take the most ridiculous sport ever invented and do it with children?
If you asked me to choose between a $20 ticket to watch the Hornets play the Nets tomorrow night or watch a hoard of pre-adolescents just straight posterizing kids left and right, I’m choosing the little guys every time.
TUG OF OAR
This one actually exists already, but I have to bring it up because I just saw it today and it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen*.
If ESPN will televise the freaking spelling bee, there’s got to be room for this.
I love this game if for nothing else but the name. Tug of Oar is pure genius.
* I don’t actually think it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.