Bending the rules

Tuesday, Jan. 25
January 25, 2011
Thursday, Jan. 27
January 27, 2011

This past month, ESPN the Magazine hired a panel of experts to come up with a list of rule changes they’d like to see in the world of sports during 2011.

Their proposals were brilliant!

Among the topics they discussed were fixing overtime rules in football, enhancing instant replay in baseball and fine-tuning the age limit for potential NBA players n all critical areas in sports that could sorely use a fix.

So that immediately powered a light bulb off in my brain and I got to thinking n an exercise that has gotten me in trouble several times throughout my life.

I wondered: What rules could be changed or tweaked in Tri-parish prep and collegiate sports?

I don’t need no stinkin’ experts to do my dirty work for me, so here’s the list I’ve got.

Behold, the rules I’d like to see changed from Tri-parish athletics in the 2011 calendar year.

• Lower the basket to 9 feet for women’s basketball games:

Let me please explain firstly that I love women’s basketball and I’ve been a fan of the sport my entire life. The fundamentals the women’s game has that the men’s game doesn’t makes it quite fun to see. But wouldn’t you guys like to see a female grab a rebound above the rim and throw down a one-handed slam-dunk in traffic? The game wouldn’t lose its clean pace of play, but a little more excitement would be added, which would ultimately lead to more fannies in the seats of those varsity girl’s basketball matchups. Those girls can play, too, go out and give them your time.

• Eliminate power points system in all sports:

Maybe I’m too old school, maybe I’m not. But I just like when winning a district championship means something n especially in this area where the rivalries are so deep in tradition. As things stand right now, our local teams beat up on one another all year long, then are rewarded with poor seeding in postseason play n a formula I just don’t feel is right. If you beat all the teams in your area, you deserve a strong playoff seed, whether your district is perceived to be “strong” or “weak” in the eyes of those in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Ultimately, if a team is good enough, they’ll win in the postseason, no matter what their seed is.

• More built-in timeouts in prep football games:

There aren’t TV timeouts in prep football action, so the game moves from Point A to Point Z in a virtual blur. Through that absolute non-stop action, players become more prone to small, minor injuries like cramping. Officials do have the discretion to call an official timeout for a water break when the mercury is high on the thermometer some Friday nights, but that’s a privilege they don’t use nearly enough. Let our boys get a bit of a breather and get back onto the field. We, as fans, want to see the best players at 100 percent in the fourth quarter when everyone is on the edge of their seats.

• Add a pitch clock to pitchers in baseball, softball:

This one is a rule also suggested by the magazine, but it just makes too much sense to not include it here, too. Part of why baseball is perceived as a “boring” sport is because there is 30 seconds and sometimes up to a minute in between pitches, depending on how deliberate the pitcher is. Put a shot clock on those guys and make them hustle to get the ball to the plate to keep the flow of the game going. The Southeastern Conference did it last year in the SEC Baseball Tournament and it worked like a charm and lowered the time of each game drastically.

• Eliminate event limitations in track and field:

It’s frustrating going to a prep track meet sometimes. Sure, we have some of the best athletes in the state and that’s a great thing. But those athletes are only allowed to compete in a handful of events to help their team. Last year, South Lafourche’s Rusty Borne could have probably helped his team win first place in three or four running events, as well as the long jump and triple jump. But we were never able to fully see the beast be unleashed, because he was only allowed by the rules to do so much. Would an NBA rule limiting players to just 40 points in a game work? Of course not! Let the kids run, jump and do any and everything they can to help their teams win.

• Add a shot clock to prep basketball games:

We’re blessed in this area to have some teams who play really, really fast and up-tempo games. But we also have teams who are interested more in holding the basketball and slowing down the game, the fan’s enthusiasm and also the fingers of the person operating the scoreboard. I know it would take a lot of effort for high school kids to get into an offensive set in 24 or 35 seconds, but let’s put a 50-second shot clock on the kids. That should speed things up a bit and make things a little more exciting for everyone.