Gateway: Sports

Bullpen: Some sports rules are plain bad, and should be changed immediately

There are a lot of dumb rules in sports. With the complexity of a lot of these games, it makes sense that some rules might be more effective than others. Here are a few rules that should be changed immediately.

End soccer flopping/diving

It’s probably the biggest thing that American soccer critics point to when trying to de-legitimize the sport. We have American football, where the players beat the absolute crud out of each other. So watching a soccer player get barely nudged, proceed to fall down, hold his/her leg and scream out and pain as if they had just been hit by a train, is annoying, to say the least.

The problem is, flopping is often rewarded. It’s the easiest way to draw a foul in an advantageous area, which leads to a free kick or even a penalty kick shot if the “foul” occurs in the box.

Efforts have been made to penalize players for obvious flops and dives with yellow cards, but the rules are scarcely enforced by referees. It’s embarrassing for the sport and it’s about the time the powers-that-be actually do something about it.

Here are a couple ideas I have to reverse the trend:

If a player needs to be carried off the field with a stretcher, he/she is not allowed to return back to the game.

Too many times, I’ve seen players literally be carried off the field on a stretcher, held by trainers, only to return to action within a couple minutes. If a player is injured to the point where he/she needs this kind of medical attention, they should not be allowed to return to the game.

All penalties in the box are subject to review.

The lack of video review in professional soccer is hard to wrap my head around, especially on such monumental, game-changing moments like penalty kicks. Every penalty kick should be automatically reviewed, whether it’s a foul or a controversial hand-ball penalty. Preferably, leagues such as MLS would adopt Major League Baseball’s replay system, in which the reviews are handled in a professional studio that has all the camera angles. The on-field referee would simply relay the studio referee’s decision.

Penalties for repeat floppers.

Assuming referees actually start to enforce diving yellow cards more frequently, a player who earns two yellow cards for diving during the season receives a minimum four-game suspension.

The NFL catch rule

No one is really sure what constitutes a catch in the NFL these days. The whole “completing the process” of the catch seems entirely subjective, and opinions from each referee don’t seem consistent at all. And what exactly is a “football move?” The NFL made this issue entirely too complicated and it’s been a source of immense frustration for players, coaches and fans. While it may be seem overly simple, going back to the “If it looks like a catch, it’s a catch” rule would make more sense.

One foot down in college football

This is one instance where the NFL’s rule makes more sense. Why does a player only need to have one foot in bounds for the catch to count? If they can’t get both their feet in bounds, it shouldn’t count as a catch.

The NBA traveling rule

What’s the point of having a traveling rule if you aren’t going to enforce it? NBA players routinely take three, or even four or five steps while attacking the basket without having a traveling violation called by the official. While NBA officials hand out technical founds like candy on Halloween, it seems to be too difficult for them to enforce one of the game’s most basic and straight-forward violations.

Alternating possession in college basketball

You get tied up, you have a jump ball. If a player manages to force a possession tie-up, he/she should be rewarded with the opportunity to out-jump the other player for possession. Why punish the team that wins the opening tip-off by having the ball go to the other team next time there’s a possession tie-up?

Add a designated hitter in the National League

I can understand both sides of this argument, but it’s simply not as enjoyable to watch National League games as it is to watch American League games. There are, of course, exceptions, but as a whole, the NL is less enjoyable to watch. In today’s era, pitchers going through a Major League Team’s farm system rarely get at-bats, and with some rare exceptions, are generally very poor hitters at the major league level. As funny as it is to watch Bartolo Colon and other pitchers swing the bat, I’d much rather watch a professional hitter at the plate than someone who is batting less than .200. For those who will use the “integrity of baseball” argument, I would point to MLB’s video review implementation as a great example of how change can sometimes be a good thing.