Bringing Out the Worst in Pro Sports

Paul Kasabian

I’m sure we all wonder sometimes whether the people that run sports in this country realize what the heck they are doing. Never does a dull moment pass without me thinking about how asinine some of the rules in today’s games are. Here’s my list of the most ridiculous aspects of sports that we face today:

1. NBA Draft Lottery: This practice was instituted in 1985 so that teams in the dregs of the league wouldn’t tank at the end of the season. Guess what? Not only do the worst teams in the league rarely obtain the premier players entering the draft, but teams still tank at the end of the season in order to get more ping pong balls. The Celtics tried to do it last year and they ended up getting the fifth pick, despite having the second-worst record. Although the basketball gods obviously had karma on their mind when the C’s were given the fifth pick, Boston “deserved” a shot at Kevin Durant. I guess it worked out for the best though.

2. ECAC Hockey Playoff Format: What a farce! Well, at least the semifinals and finals are. The first round and quarterfinals are fine, with teams playing in best two-out-of-three series. But why on Earth aren’t the semifinals and finals three-game series as well? That doesn’t make much sense to me. The ECAC, which is the league that both Colgate hockey teams play in, is a parity-stricken conference that usually has three or less teams qualify for the 16-team NCAA tournament in a given year. More games are needed during the last two rounds to show which teams are truly the best in the conference. It could be worse, however. The ECAC could hold three-game series with the third game only being 10 minutes long (the case back in the day).

3. Lack of Instant Replay in Baseball for Home Run Calls: I don’t favor instant replay for safe/out calls and fair/foul calls down the lines. The umpires are close enough to the play to make their best judgments and it’s not worth slowing down an already slow-paced game. However, why can’t we consult instant replay to find out whether a ball made it over the fence or whether a shot into the stands was fair or foul? It’s hard for umpires to make this judgment when they are so far away from the play and it’s preposterous when four umpires that are no closer than 150 feet to the play try and decide what just happened. Just look at the camera, guys; it won’t destroy the tradition and sanctity of the game.

4. The Existence of Southeastern Pro Sports Teams: How about this list of horrible franchises: Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins, Atlanta Hawks and Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes and the Memphis Grizzlies. The only pro sports teams that do well down in NASCAR and SEC country are NFL squads. This begs me to wonder why the MLB, NBA and NHL all decided to expand their respective leagues to an area where stock-car racing and college football are the main attractions. Now, these franchises and many more are stains in their leagues. At the very least, is it too much to ask Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to contract the Marlins? I think I have a higher salary than anyone on that team and I get paid $10 for every Intramural game I officiate.

5. College TV Time-outs: Let’s move forward to Sunday for the ESPNU game between Colgate and American at Cotterell Court. Colgate goes on a 10-0 run to start the second half and extends its lead to 51-20 in front of a sell-out crowd. American University Head Coach Jeff Jones calls a timeout with 16:03 left in the game to settle things down. After the time-out, American point guard Derrick Mercer dribbles the ball off his foot out-of-bounds with 15:59 left. Does junior Kyle Roemer inbound the ball right away? Of course not. ESPNU has more sponsors to advertise during the mandatory television timeouts during every four minutes of a half. Why can’t they eliminate two of the timeouts and replace the ad revenue by placing a small ad graphic next to the scoreboard? It’ll create a smoother flow during the game.

6. NHL Overtime Losses: No professional major league in this world rewards teams for losing besides the NHL. It’s nonsensical for teams to get a point for losing a game. The NHL should either get rid of overtime losses and go to a strict win-loss format or it should get rid of the shootout and bring back ties. Look at the NHL standings today; almost every team is bunched together because they receive points for losing. I have no idea why Cornell grad and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman still has his job, since he has overseen ridiculous rule changes like this over the years.

7. Certain ESPN Personalities: YOU KNOW, WATCHING STEPHEN A. SMITH ON TELEVISION IS SORT OF LIKE READING THIS ARTICLE IN CAPS. IT’S UTTERLY OBNOXIOUS WHEN HE SCREAMS AT THE TV JUST LIKE IT’S OBNOXIOUS WHEN I WRITE LIKE THIS. But there are other ESPN personalities that are just as intolerable. Emmitt Smith is a Hall-of-Famer and a great dancer, but he hasn’t expressed one coherent thought since replacing former teammate Michael Irvin on Sunday NFL Countdown. Stuart Scott seems like he is more interested in marketing new catchphrases than telling viewers the story behind highlights and John Kruk comes off as a blubbering fool. But these four men do not compare to Skip Bayless, who knows less about sports than the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. In case you forgot, Bayless is the man who wanted to eliminate the placekicker from football. Now, if he’s serious about that claim and others, Bayless is an idiot. But even if he’s just joking, the schtick is just a tiresome and stupid waste of the television viewer’s time. There are plenty more things that irritate me about sports, such as the litany of fake sports at the Olympics, the BCS and the fact that Isiah Thomas still has a job, but I have only so much room in this article. At the end of the day, moments like the Giants miraculous run to Super Bowl XLII victory and George Mason’s overtime win over UConn in the Elite Eight two years ago remind me why I sit down and deal with these annoyances in the first place: because I wait for great moments like those.