Improving the World of Sports
Billy Joel once said, “The good old days weren’t always good, tomorrow’s not as bad as it seems.” From one native Long Islander to another let me just say, “Billy, you may be on to something.” I’m not one of those “everything that’s old is better” people, nor am I one of these individuals who believes we can “make America great again,” at least until somebody can point to that exact moment in time that America was great. (I’m not holding my breath on that one, especially since once you look more than 30 years or so into America’s past, racism, sexism, drug use, and street violence tend to stain much of what we remember as “great.”)
However, with all due respect to Billy Joel, I do believe there were plenty of things in our past, particularly in the world of sports that really should have remained unchanged. Unfortunately, over the past 20 or so years, there have been far too many instances of the powers that be, going ahead and tinkering with things that really were working just fine. Why is this done you ask? Typically, the same reason changes are made in the world of sports, are pretty much the same reasons for changes in all aspects of life; technology and greed.
Image result for terry sawchuk getty images
This handsome gent was the great Terry Sawchuk. Sawchuk was considered by some as the best to ever play the position of goalie in the NHL. He also played most of his career without a mask. For the record, I’m good with goalies wearing masks, I mean, I’m not a complete lunatic. (Getty Images)
I’m not so foolish to believe that sports, as is the case for almost all aspects of life, are not going to change. First of all, we as human beings have changed significantly in just the past 50 years. Human’s are bigger, faster, stronger, better nourished, better trained, and possess a better understanding of what makes the human body tick. Human evolution cannot be held back. Evolution always wins, and there’s simply no way to stop progress. However, that’s not to say that every change that we artificially introduce into the world of both professional as well as amateur sports is necessary.
As a long-time fan of competitive sports, I’ve watched with some disillusionment the various changes that have taken place. I understand that there are always going to be attempts at improving athletic endeavors in order to make them more compelling, and that’s fine. However, change for the sake of change, as well as certain technological improvements have been known to take some of the human element out of sports, and in my humble opinion, often ruin what made the sport enjoyable in the first place.
Image result for referee doing instant replay
How many people are sick of seeing this? Just call it for the Patriots and get back to the game. (Getty Images)
We’re simply not a society that knows how to leave well enough alone. There’s always somebody with that critical eye who claims that something is good, but we can make it better. However, are they really making it better? Again, I understand that progress will not be stopped, and once a technology has been revealed, there’s no putting the proverbial “Genie” back in the bottle. However, there’s a fine line between improving a game of sport, especially for the safety of those participating in it, versus simply giving one player or another an unfair advantage through doping or steroid use.
Remember, the spirit of “sport” was invented by the ancient Greeks in their famed Olympic games. Keep in mind, the participants in these “games” always participated in a state of nudity. If a naked, greased down Greek athlete tossing a javelin is your idea of sport, then you missed out brother, because that’s what they offered back in “B.C.” (Before Clothes.) In those halcyon days, it was just a man, his competitor, and his naked glistening body. There were no artificial enhancements. In ancient Sparta, they called days where young men would wrestle nude and oiled down, days ending in “ay.” So it is in the spirit of these first great athletes that I offer up to you, ten sports, and how they can be improved.
Image result for waldo von erich you tube
The first thing we need to know as fans is who to root for. Rooting for your home team means making all sorts of compromises, particularly if it’s let’s say the New England Patriots and their crooked “QB,” Tom Brady, since everybody knows they’re cheaters. Professional wrestling in the 1960s and ’70s understood this, and they made it easy. Look, if the guy, such as Waldo von Erich seen above, is dressed like a Gestapo agent, then it’s probably safe to hate him. There, problem solved. (You Tube)
Professional Wrestling – I admittedly don’t follow it much anymore, but there’s a good reason for this, and it’s not that it’s fake. In the ’90s, the “sport” featured a bunch of steroid infused “alpha males” who enjoyed screaming into the microphone, and quite honestly, you couldn’t tell the difference between the heroes and the heels. They often changed roles within the scope of an episode of Raw. My prescription for what ails professional wrestling? Simple, bring back the stereotypes. Nazis, inscrutable Japanese, sneaky French-Canadians, good-hearted Hawaiians, noble Native-Americans, and all-American boys like Bob Backlund, left little doubt in the eyes of the average professional wrestling viewer who they should be rooting for, and who they should be wishing horrible fortunes upon. Let’s face it, you’re watching PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING, your obviously not looking to do any deep thinking. Let me know up front who I’m supposed to hate, and who I’m supposed to root for. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Rob, professional wrestling, you really are a doofus.” Oh really, well guess who else likes professional wrestling? That’s right, the president of the United States, so there!
Bowling – Oh sure, there was a time when it dominated the sports landscape on Saturday afternoons, hosted by the immortal Chris Schenkel. But we have to be realistic here, it’s grown a little stale. My idea for bringing it back to its former glory? All bowlers must be sporting either a buzz-cut, like the great Earl Anthony, or if they are losing their hair, a massive comb-over like Ernie McCracken in Kingpin. Then, in at least two frames, the bowlers must bowl with their opposite hand. Whoever wins those two frames wins 10,000 dollars. Finally, both bowlers must be eating pizza and drinking Schlitz on tap throughout the entire match.
Football – I think we’d all agree that this once great, purely American sport is suffering. The game is over-refereed, has no flow, too many commercials, and the players look ridiculous in some of the uniforms they have them prancing around in. The first thing I would do is get rid of all of those automatic “not-so-instant” replays. Each coach gets two per game, and that’s it. If the call can’t be determined in 60 seconds or less, the replay is cancelled. It’s called human error, deal with it. Next, I would get rid of those absurd Thursday night uniforms, it makes the players look like they are about to play laser tag or something. The uniforms should all be from the 1960s or ’70s, and the helmets should have the single bar, like Billy Kilmer. (Google him.)
Image result for billy kilmer getty images
This is what a football player should look like. Single-bar facemask, a head that takes up the entire helmet, and he should be kind of fat and out of shape, as if he could play the game with a can of beer in one hand , and the “pigskin” in the other. (Getty Images)
4. Hockey – Speaking of “tough-guy” sports, hockey is not for wimps as everybody knows. Now I’m not saying that the goalies shouldn’t wear masks. We saw what happened to poor Terry Sawchuk’s face. However, players should be able to eschew helmets if they choose. The thought of Ron Duguay skating up the ice for the New York Rangers, his long “mulleted” hair flowing in the breeze, his devilish good looks on display for all to see….Oh wait, sorry, I lost my head there for a second. I would also go back to the days when they named the divisions after people that nobody ever heard of like the “Norris” division, and the “Patrick” division. Also, the home team should wear white, just like they did in the 1970s!
Image result for ron duguay getty images
That’s two minutes for being “sexy” Ron. Into the penalty box. (Getty Images)
5. NBA – Here yet again is another sport that’s been ruined by instant replay. As if the final two minutes didn’t already take an hour, and in a game where every superstar gets to walk, palm, double-dribble, and hang from the rim, all illegal under the rules, they are worried about using instant replay. Patrick Ewing never scored a point in the NBA where he didn’t walk. You couldn’t breath on Michael Jordan without it being a foul, why are we worried about stopping play to see who the ball went out on. I would also advocate having the players where their socks up to their knees, as well as having the shorts be worn a lot shorter. Finally, the white players should wear “Chuck Taylor’s,” just because.
Image result for artis gilmore getty images
That’s what an NBA player should look like. Artis Gilmore is dressed to “ill.” (Getty Images)
6. Tennis – It’s not just team sports that need to be spruced up. Tennis is hardly the fan favorite that it once was. Why is that? The players are too good. Their super powerful rackets can hit the tennis ball so hard, as well as with so much spin, that there are no more epic volleys. Don’t even get me started on the serves. They are clocking in now at over 160 m.p.h. and climbing. My solution? Go back to wooden rackets. It would force the players to play with finesse. Before you know it, they will be having 20 minute volleys on the clay at Roland-Garros faster than you can say Bjorn Borg.
7. Major League Baseball – It’s obvious isn’t it? The game is too slow. Two things that I would do to speed up the game? The pitcher cannot hold the ball for more than 10 seconds, or else it counts as a ball for the batter. I would also limit the catcher to one, that’s one visit per pitcher. Most pitchers throw three pitches, how tough is it to decide? I would also advocate for going back to “flapless” batting helmets, those were cool. I would also get rid of all of those elbow guards and other body armor pieces made famous by the “Steroid Kid,” Barry Bonds. Oh, and two uniforms, one for home and one for away, preferably from the 1970s.
Image result for the reds from the 1970s getty images
Sansabelt, the only belt any baseball player should ever be caught wearing. If it’s good enough for Johnny Bench, it’s good enough for Aaron Judge. (Getty Images)
8. College Football/Basketball – I’ve lost interest over the years because the matchups simply aren’t that compelling anymore. Remember when the “Big East” was actually composed of Eastern teams? Now anybody with accreditation can get in. As for football, when was the last time Nebraska vs. Oklahoma mattered? Go back to the days of the classic rivalries, and maybe I’ll tune in again.
9. Ping-Pong – Despite the best efforts of Forrest Gump, ping-pong has not had the resurgence that I believe it deserves. One of the reasons for this I feel is that it’s played at such high speeds in such vast areas by the pros, that basement heroes like myself can’t relate to it any longer, so we’ve lost our interest in the sport. Honestly, when was the last time our national ping-pong champion was honored in a “Rose Garden Ceremony” at the White House? I submit that we should change the entire scope of the game. Instead of playing it in a vast arena, it should be played in the same dimensions as my friends and family and I played in my basement in North Massapequa. Every ping-pong match from this moment on should be played where there’s a wall behind each player that barely allows you to take a full swing, and when you slam it, you can really take your opponent’s eyes out. (Safety goggles would be optional.)
Image result for professional ping pong you tube
Really? Uniforms? Really? Why? Can’t you just show up in your sweats or something? (You Tube)
10. Soccer – Just stop playing, then we can all stop pretending that it’s a sport of any merit or consequence. Soccer is to sports what the Bible is to science. The Bible was an attempt by early man to explain life in the absence of facts. Soccer was an attempt by early man to stay amused in the absence of literally having anything else to do.
There you have it. This is my attempt to rescue the world of sports from itself. Its greed and never-ending wish to improve upon what is already usually a pretty good and popular activity have left many Americans wanting more. Leave the human element in, take the greed and the over-reliance on technology out, and for G_d’s sake, stop trying to create fake jerseys just so some poor parent feels obligated to purchase it. Finally, if you’re really bored and looking for a sport with a lot of action, watch the 1975 thriller, Rollerball, starring James Caan. now that’s a sport!