I’m a huge sucker for the Christmas season. I can’t help it – ever since I was a small child, this has been my favorite time of the year.
I love receiving gifts. I remember when I was 6-years-old, waking up and discovering that Santa Claus had delivered a Super Nintendo to my home. The look on my face was priceless. Family photos show me playing it a few days later with saggy black bags under my eyes. I couldn’t put the controller down – not even to sleep. It was a stretch of 2-3 days that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
But likewise, I also love giving gifts. I don’t have children of my own, but I do have a nephew and three Godchildren to spoil – each will have a box or two under the Christmas tree this holiday season.
Shopping for them is more fun than shopping for myself. What’s better than being a 27-year-old man getting to shop for – and play with – toys?
While in the Christmas spirit, I’d like to use my column this week to publicly state the things I’m hoping Santa delivers to me in the upcoming year.
None of the following are material gifts – my family can take care of that. All of these things involve changes I’d love to see in the world of sports.
Some will be popular. Others will not. But regardless, I wanted to get this out and in the open early so that the bearded fellow could have a few weeks to evaluate whether or not I was a good boy this holiday season. I think that I have done a pretty good job of behaving, but I guess we’ll find out how it all plays out on Dec. 25.
CASEY’S CHRISTMAS LIST OF THINGS TO CHANGE IN THE WORLD OF SPORTS:
Playoff realignment in the NBA
Way back in the day when we rode around on horses, the world was so, so big. And because of that, the NBA aligned itself in geographical conferences in an effort to prevent teams from traveling across the country more than they had to. But now, we’re in 2014, and cross-country travel isn’t nearly the nuisance that it used to be. Likewise, the NBA is also a multi-billion dollar business, so a couple flights isn’t hurting anyone’s pockets anymore. All of this means that it’s time to completely revamp the league’s playoff system to make things fairer for everyone involved. Instead of being pigeonholed into having eight Eastern Conference teams in the field of 16, why not just allow the best 16 teams to get in regardless of conference? Of course, the Western Conference teams would immediately gripe that they are at a disadvantage because of an unbalanced schedule. Fair point. So my solution would be for every team to play everyone else three times (87 games) and let’s call it a day. The five extra regular season games aren’t ideal, but this is fairer than what we have now – there’s no doubt.
College football playoffs go away
I hate the College Football Playoffs. They’ve only been here for one year, and I’m already completely ready to burn the system to the ground and find something new. I don’t like that the selection is committee is biased – made up of athletic directors and former coaches. I also don’t like that it’s never been disclosed what exactly the committee is supposed to be valuing during the whole process, something that opens the door wide for contradiction and hypocritical assessments of teams. I have always been of the belief that humans are incapable of making objective decisions about anything in life. So with that said, my remedy would be to bring back the BCS and allow it to pick the four best teams in the country. Maybe then, we would get a system that is fair and objective to all of the schools in America.
Make 7-on-7 football a sanctioned varsity spring sport
Football is the big craze across the country. We just can’t get enough of it. So I have an idea for something that can be a big-time money maker at both the college and prep levels – let’s start caring about 7-on-7. I think the LHSAA should follow Texas’s lead and make 7-on-7 football an actual varsity sport with district champions, playoff competition and state champions. If it works at the prep level, why not do it for college too? Look at it like indoor and outdoor track – two different sports under the same scholarship. Can you imagine the TV ratings a few springs ago if Johnny Manziel had faced Alabama in a 7-on-7 game? Or what about LSU fans? Wouldn’t you guys like to see how Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings are progressing against SEC-level defensive backs? I think it’s an option worth looking into, and it’s something that I’d love to cover. Folks worried about Title IX shouldn’t worry at all. Because this is such a non-contact brand of football, females could compete in their own sport if they chose to do so, as well. This is the SEC Network’s dream. I think this is something that could realistically have legs if a little creativity is involved.
Lower shot clock in college basketball
I used to be a huge fan of college basketball. But now, it’s a foul fest that is played exclusively at the free throw line. That, of course, is because the sport’s shot clock is too long. Teams don’t have the athleticism to play defense for 30-plus seconds at a time, which, of course, leads to a slower tempo and more fouls. To liven up the sport, let’s adopt a 24-second shot clock. I think this would also allow the NBA to better evaluate who the top dogs are before the NBA Draft. More excitement, and a sport that rewards the best players? Sounds like a win-win to me. Coaches for smaller-tier programs would argue that this would hurt their chances to compete with the big boys, but at the end of the day, one has to either evolve or be left behind. It’s as simple as that. They’d get used to it eventually if they wanted to find a way to compete.
Make trophy games for prep rivalries
Trophies are pretty awesome. I still have all of mine from my childhood. But believe it or not, they are also really inexpensive, as well. Which is why I wish that local prep schools would use them to boost the intensity of local rivalries – especially in football. At the college level, we see big-time trophy games like LSU’s Battle for the Boot with Arkansas or some of the others around the country. Why shouldn’t South Lafourche and Central Lafourche compete annually for a trophy? Or what about H.L. Bourgeois and Terrebonne? Or South Terrebonne and Ellender? It’d be an added touch to make these games extra special. Not that they need it.
Principals adopt split in all sports – or no sports
I wish nothing but the best to whoever the LHSAA’s new Executive Director will be. He/she has a lot of work to do, because the entity they are taking over is a completely inept organization. There is absolutely no doubt that public and private schools in Louisiana compete in an unlevel playing field. And there is also no doubt that there are a handful of rule breakers around the state – schools who cherry-pick players from across the area in an effort to build the best football, basketball or baseball team in Louisiana. But because the LHSAA is inept, their answer to this problem wasn’t to eliminate the rule breakers, but to instead isolate them from the general population via the public/private split in football. The problem with this arrangement is it punishes every private school who follows the rules (like the four locally) and it devalues the public school championships, because there’s always the “what-if” factor in place. What if West Monroe played Rummel? What if Karr played St. Thomas More? It’s not fair to the kids and it’s not fair to anyone involved. Either get rid of the split completely (the ideal solution) or put it in place for all sports. And in the process, let’s actually enforce the rules in place for a change.