SALT LAKE CITY — Unless you're a golf fan, you probably haven't been following the recent controversy about changing the rules of golf to outlaw "belly" putters, or the act of "anchoring" the putter against your body.
Such a rule change won't make a huge difference in golf, but would affect all the PGA Tour golfers who have cured their yips or found success using this method of putting.
You might have also heard about UConn women's coach Geno Auriemma's recent proposal to lower the rim in women's basketball by a half a foot or so. He believes it can bring more excitement to the game where the players are about a half a foot smaller than the men. He compares it to volleyball, where the women's net is shorter than the men's.
These possible rule modifications got me thinking about other rules in sports that could use changing.
Golf – No more two-stroke penalty for out of bounds.
I've always felt this is an overly punitive penalty. Why not make out of bounds the same penalty as hitting the ball into a lateral hazard. That means you basically drop the ball near where it went in and hit three from there rather than three from the tee. That's how most hackers play the rule anyway when they hit a ball out of bounds. Just drop a ball where it went out and take a stroke. It would also speed up play, keeping golfers from going back to the tee to hit a ball when they discover their drive just barely went out of bounds.
Tennis — One serve.
That's right, you don't get two serves to get the ball in. Tennis is the only sport where you get a do-over. You won't have as many aces, but that would be a good thing as players would have to make sure they hit their first serve "in" and, particularly on the men's side, we'd get longer rallies. Of course there would be no more double-faults, just a single-fault.
Baseball — Timing.
Baseball is one of the few sports without any time limits. Yes, games have the possibility to go on forever, and sometimes they feel like they do. Don't you get tired of batters stepping out of the box several times during an at-bat? Or pitchers staring at the catcher forever before throwing a pitch? Or pitchers throwing over to first base a half a dozen times to hold a man on?
I really don't know how to implement a clock in baseball. Perhaps you could give pitchers a warning if they take more than 10 seconds to throw a pitch. If they do it again, it's a ball. With batters, you could give them a strike if they keep stepping out of the box too many times. Whatever, we need to do something about these endless three- and four-hour ballgames.
Football — Fouls.
Why don't they keep track of the number of penalties a particular player gets? Players can foul out of basketball games and get yellow and red cards in soccer, but there's no accountability in football for fouls.
One of the dumbest things in football is when two players on opposing teams get called for personal fouls. The official throws the flag, then announces "offsetting penalties," which means absolutely nothing because no yardage is marked off. If players were sent out of the game after, say, three penalties, those offsetting penalties might carry some consequences. Also, with the threat of "fouling out," players might try to play a little cleaner and we wouldn't have as many of those frustrating occurences where a great touchdown gets called back because of a stupid penalty.
College Basketball – Timeouts
I'd love to change the timeout rules, so there were about three fewer per game. Games often can't get a proper flow with those every-four-minute media timeouts. Coaches still get five timeouts per game that they seem to save up for the final three minutes of a game, which can end up lasting for a half hour of real time. Why must coaches have such a say in the outcome of games? Let the players figure it out.
Hockey and Soccer — Wider goals.
This may be blasphemous to hockey and soccer afficianados, but why must so many games end up 1-0 or 2-1? Or in the case of soccer, 0-0? Do you realize that of the last four games our beloved Real Salt Lake has played, each has ended in a 0-0 draw?
I'm not talking a huge difference, just a few inches in the hockey goal, and perhaps an extra foot or two on each side in soccer. Every game there seems to be a shot off the post, so this could mean an extra goal or two in every game.
Also, with more goals, it would cut the chances for overtimes and shootouts, which, though exciting, aren't the fairest way to determine winners.
There you have just a few ideas for sports rule changes. If YOU could change a rule in sports, what would it be?