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From Where I Sit: Which Rule Would You Change?

by Brad Muller

Do you ever watch a game and say, “I hate that rule?”

From where I sit, I say that a lot. I do. All the time. If you could change one rule, what would it be?

Whether it’s as a broadcaster or as a fan, we can all find rules in our favorite sports that we don’t love, we wish would change, or perhaps players are exploiting a rule, or maybe that rule is no longer effective.

Some rules or lack of regulations are polarizing. Take the shift in baseball. I hate it, but I get it. Part of me wishes players would work more on bunting and send little dribblers down the third base line for a base hit every time the defense throws a shift out there. I know it’s probably smart baseball to do it, and believe me, I’m not going to pretend to know even ten percent as much about the game than the coaches who live in that world every day.

However, part of me wishes the baseball hierarchy would just say, “Come one, man. No, you can’t do that.” The pitch clock has been around college baseball for a few years and is now in Major League Baseball. I’m not going to lie, I like it, but not everybody does.

What about zone defenses or junk defenses in basketball? You used to not be able to play zone defense in the NBA. In college basketball, they’re a big part of the game. I’ve seen some of the most ridiculous packed-in zones the last few years against former South Carolina women’s basketball star Aliyah Boston, and it’s not uncommon to see three players close enough to touch her in most games. I’m obviously biased because of my role as the team’s radio announcer, but there are plenty of times when I think, there’s no way they should be able to do that! By the way, she is now thriving as a rookie in the WNBA which prevents such defensive tactics.

Something that really boils my blood is flopping. Whether it’s in soccer, basketball, or football, when I see a player intentionally fly backwards at the slightest touch to try and draw a foul/penalty, I can feel myself losing my religion and wanting to throw my shoe. As a professional broadcaster I try not to allow my emotions to be visible when working a game, but I’ve been known to flip my pen on to the table when I see a dreadful flop. It makes it worse when an obvious flop is indeed awarded with the penalty. As a former rugby player, I find flopping offensive to the nature of competition … and kind of wimpy, too. Fortunately, there are rules in soccer and the NBA that can penalize the flopper, and that makes me happy. I just want to see it called more!

Targeting in football is a real hot button issue, and for good reason. With the size and strength of the athletes today, leading with the head is dangerous to the one being hit and as well as the one delivering the blow, so it is needed to discourage players from hitting someone they can’t see! Sometimes, you can’t help but have helmet to helmet contact when the offensive and defensive player lower themselves at the same time, where the intent was not to make such contact, but it happens. Nobody wants to see anyone get hurt. Perhaps football should adopt the rugby rule where it is a penalty if you tackle without attempting to wrap up the player instead of just diving into them. Or maybe take away the helmet and shoulder pads altogether? Believe me, you would tackle more properly and wouldn’t duck your head if you didn’t have the false sense of security with the big helmet on your dome.

There are some good arguments to be made about differences in rules at various levels of play such as one foot down for a catch in college football, but the NFL requires both feet to be down. Or what about spot fouls versus just a fifteen-yard penalty for pass interference? Should a golfer be disqualified if he forgets to sign his card? If a hitter strikes out but the pitch gets by the catcher, the batter can run to first base. What about the jump ball versus the possession arrow in basketball? Hmmm. So much to think about.

So, let’s have it. What rule would you change or add to your favorite sport? From where I sit, sometimes a change is good! Tag this post and send your response to @SCBrad on Twitter.

Check out some of the previous “From Where I Sit” columns here.