Let’s Speed The Game(S) Up Already !


By Mark Hebscher


Have you noticed how incredibly long it takes to play a sporting event these days? Two nights in a row I’ve wanted to watch the U.S. Open, but couldn’t stay up late enough. Last week I fell asleep during a baseball game that took nearly four hours to play and had 11 pitching changes. And the NFL starts tonight, which means flags will be flying, challenges will be made and the last two minutes of the game will take a half hour to play. It’s agony!

I’m certainly not the first old guy to complain that the games take too long to play. But instead of whining about it and then passing out from exhaustion/boredom, I’m going to take a proactive approach with these suggestions as to how to speed up play and make the sporting events more enjoyable for all of us, including the participants.


The reason tennis matches take too long, especially the Grand Slam events, is because you’re allowed a do-over. What other sport allows this? It’s like getting a mulligan on every drive you take in golf. If you miss your first serve, you get to pull another ball out of your pocket, bounce it 20 times and try it again. And if that ball hits the net, bounces over and lands in the service court, you get to try it AGAIN. It’s called a “let”. The elapsed time used to take 2 serves is far greater than the actual time spent playing a point. And don’t get me started with replay technology. Tennis started that whole stupid trend. You want to speed up tennis? One serve only equals matches that last 2 hours max.


Since there are no official “timeouts” in baseball, a team can send the catcher/pitching coach/manager out to the mound a couple of times an inning. The ump takes his time strolling out to the mound and by the time he arrives, the guy warming up in the bullpen is ready to go. Eliminate these conferences. Whenever someone emerges from the dugout, he’s got 30 seconds to get to the mound, remove the pitcher and call for his replacement. I especially hate it when a catcher is allowed to go out to the mound multiple times an inning. That’s when I want to strangle the umpire. And while you’re at it baseball, get rid of the four-pitch intentional walk. Just tell the ump you want to walk the guy and save us the excitement of throwing four straight lobs to the catcher. Try explaining that rule to a kid. No wonder they think baseball is stupid.


Purists think I’m crazy, but don’t you think both games would be way more exciting. How do you think it is with pond hockey or road hockey? There are no bluelines. A guy goal-sucks up near the other team’s net and you hit him with a breakaway pass. It’s the most exciting play in sports. Same goes for soccer, which doesn’t even have a real offsides line, only a man-made one that can easily be moved in order to deceive the opposition, the officials and the fans. You want more scoring? More breakaways? Blow up the offside pass. Slows the game down. Kills momentum. Nobody will miss it.


I always hated this rule because it’s not what a time-out is intended for. A coach can burn a timeout just before his opponents are about to attempt a last second field goal. Usually, the coach waits until THE VERY LAST SECOND before putting up the “T” sign right in front of the official. This means it’ll take ANOTHER two minutes, which means the TV networks can get in four more commercials and you’ll be late for your pick-up hockey game (again). One time-out per team per half would solve that problem.


This rule would force teams to actually PLAY basketball uninterrupted for more than 10 seconds instead of just TALKING about it at the bench for 2 minutes and then, when they don’t have a proper inbounds play to run, call ANOTHER time-out. Nothing worse than watching the flow of a great game slowed down to a crawl because both coaches are using all those time-outs, even when their team is down by ten points with 4.8 seconds to go. And while I’m at it, when was the last time a 20 second time-out actually took 20 seconds?


This should be universal for all sports. You have to pick your spot if you’re a coach/manager. If you win your challenge, you get another. If you lose the challenge, you don’t get another one for the rest of the game/match. I’m sick and tired of seeing athletes pointing to a play and urging the coach/manager to challenge the call. Enough already.


There should be no scoring whatsoever. You can only win by knockout or if the other guy/girl taps out. This would speed up boxing greatly, especially at the end of the bout when we have to wait for the judge’s decision, which is usually a joke. The fight ends when somebody goes down for the count. We don’t need no stinkin’ judges.


A single point on a missed Field Goal in the CFL. It’s called rewarding failure. Get rid of it.

Grounding your club in a hazard in golf. Why the hell not? Do I care if you touch your club in the sand? Does it matter to me if you grazed the bullrushes with your club while taking a practice swing in a hazard? No. Golf takes too long already. Just hit the ball where it lies.

The checked swing in baseball. Any guy who makes an attempt to swing and moves his bat towards home plate will be charged with a strike. None of this appealing to another umpire. The home plate ump makes the call every time. And you can’t question balls and strikes.

The fair catch in the NFL. When I go to a football game, I want to see guys getting hit. Why should a guy be allowed to “bail out” of a hit. As long as the defender doesn’t touch the returner before the ball arrives, he’s fair game. The fair catch us unfair to the fans. It’s chickenshit.


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