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And Now For Something Somewhat Different

Four new start-up sports league proposals.

by James Leroy Wilson
January 31, 2001

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And Now For Something Somewhat Different_James Leroy Wilson-Four new start-up sports league proposals. The NFL season is ending, and the XFL is about to begin. One feature is that taunts and celebrations are being encouraged. That would be kind of odd.

"Hey, you, #88; your NFL scouting report called you an overachiever in college. That means you can't play."
"Oh yeah? How many Grey Cup rings do YOU have?"

While the XFL is claiming that it will a rougher, more free-wheeling game, perhaps going back to football's original purpose as a glorified school-yard brawl, I am not all that interested. We are at the dawn of a new century, and I think that new start-up leagues, whether major or minor, could be more innovative.

What they could do is think of very different rules, so that they would not be in competition with the old game but present an authentic alternative to it. Take the game of basketball. Its features, like the ball, the dribbling, the basket, the general look, purpose, and nature of the play, would all still be there. But then think of something new and different for the fans to watch, perhaps giving him more of what they do like of the older game and less of the boring or stupid parts. Here are some ideas for how new games could be developed out of older ones.

Old game: Basketball; New game: Open Court Basketball.

Lewis Grizzard wrote, in an age of high-scoring basketball, that the should make a rule that the first team to one hundred points wins. In this age of physical, stifling defenses, such a rule looks good now more than ever. As does reducing the number per side to four. Coaches would actually start teaching offense again..

Old game: Hockey; New game: Power Hockey

Make the game nothing but the power play. One team plays with a 6-5 advantage for five minutes, then the other has the advantage for five minutes, alternating until 60 minutes have expired. See the shots on goal numbers fly.

Old game: Baseball; New game: Point Baseball

An inning would be considered a game in itself; a match would be a best-of-seven or -nine games. No substitutions in any game, but changes can be made in the batting order or pitching between games. No three-out rule; every batter bats just once. Each base would be one point, so that a single would be one point, a home run four, and a grand slam ten.

Old game: Football; New game: Action Football

No substitutions except quarter changes - the same players would have to play offense, defense and special teams, which means there would always have to be someone on the field who could kick. Abolish the time-consuming measurements and instead establish a new 3-down rule where the offense doesn't have to actually gain ten yards, but would have to cross the next ten-yard marker. Also, there would be just a ten-second play clock.. What you would see is a virtually continual motion; no huddles, a lot more plays, a lot less waiting, and what might be lost in strategy and specialized skill would be compensated by more action, and more well-rounded athletes.

Also, in all games with clocks, the losing team would be allowed to concede the game at any point that they conclude they have no mathematical chance of winning. That way, the winner can't be accused of rolling up the score.

These are all just general ideas, of course. But for new leagues to survive, they have to be much different. That's why Arena football is still around. The XFL, new ABA, and other start-ups should think about not just tweaking the rules, but changing them outright.

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Harold L. Wilson from Warrensburg, MO writes:
February 1, 2001
A very good fun column. The suggested new games Point Baseball and Action Football would really be fun to watch and would soon develop their own following, their own traditions and records. It would be great if these suggestions were taken seriously and new leagues developed. The XFL with the rule changes they have already made for the new league make a few more by taking some of James Leroy Wilson's suggestions and probably really be successful. Great column!

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