Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Death of Sports?

Professional Sports are dying. At least, I think they're on the edge of something bad, unless drastic changes are made.
How do I know this? First of all, apparently televised sports have become so boring and run-of-the-mill that the networks had to resurrect AMERICAN GLADIATORS of all things. Also, Baseball used to be our "national pastime". By the 70's, Basketball started to make a big impact on the sports scene- and let's not forget Pro Football edging out basketball in the 90's. Soon this too will change. Here's a list of some sports below, and the various problems I see with them. MY humorous "fixes" for the sports are at the bottom of this blog.

Baseball: What killed baseball? Some would take a bat and beat me on the head saying that it's still very much alive. However, I don't see prime-time preempts for baseball games on TV anymore like when I was a kid. You have to get cable to even see a game anymore. Even event ticket prices should tell you how it's doing. Last time I WENT to a ballgame was only $10 to get in- and that was the GOOD seats.
The death of baseball started in the 70's and early 80's with the onslaught of the new "pumped" players. These overmuscular players hit the ball over the fence all the time, and their outfield counterparts hardly ever drop a catch. Blame steroids, or just thick-headed jocks, but all the home runs and instant outs have made the game, well...boring. Baseball used to be played by blokes who also had regular 9-5 jobs (or at least, part time somewhere else). They'd make you think- hey, hes just a regular Joe like me. There was strategy in the game, not just "run fast, hit hard". But anymore, it's just a guy running in a circle. (or most of the time, not even making it to first).
Occasionally Baseball would pop back in the limelight briefly. For example, Sosa & McGuire home run war- but even by the end of that, people really didn't care WHO finally beat the record. I remember there was more of a stir about the record-winning ball not being given back by the fan who caught it, than by who actually HIT the ball.
As for what can be done to fix this problem in baseball? Weight limit caps. -under 200 lbs should be the cap. That would knock off the steroid freaks, and pave the way for interesting games again.

Basketball- Basketball is currently in it's "death-throes". It's still highly popular- but only because football has an off-season, and sports fans turn on basketball like a hungry pack of wolves.
The main problem I see with basketball is player's salaries. They need to permanently cap ALL salaries at 25 Million or less. What the hell can a college dropout buy with 50+ Million that you CAN'T buy with 25?? Besides, endorsements will bring in more cash for them on the side anyways, so why are you paying them so much at the arena? All that high salaries cause is for them to have more games and higher ticket prices to cover the salaries. But the players are playing more games, so they want higher salaries....see the loop?? Eventually we're gonna see a basketball game every night. Then the popularity will sharply drop off. again, it's the "boring" factor, causing attendance to drop, teams to bankrupt... They're already starting year-round basketball now!!
Another thing they need to fix is the playoffs. They need to take a page from football or hell, college basketball. In the playoffs, teams should play each other ONCE, then you're out if you lose. The ONLY reason they have the 'best of 7' crap is to cover players salaries- stretching out ticket prices and advertisements over 7 games and not just one. Fix the salaries, you'll fix basketball.

Football: Football is at it's peak right now. The leagues have done things right. Keeping televised interest high with the clever use of "funny commercials", the playoffs are elimination-based, salaries aren't TOO crazy -you do have a few up there, but for the most part, the leagues have good caps. Great halftime shows in the Superbowl help keep the viewer locked into that channel. Plus, the sport itself is always a mystery. One dropped ball in football can sway the tide to the underdog. And, just because you run the correct pattern, things may NOT go correctly. It keeps every game 'interesting'. What I can see in the long run, is if Baseball or Basketball gets their act together and becomes our nations "#1 sport" again, football will have trouble keeping it's advertising- which is what pays the players. However, I don't see this happening anytime soon.

Golf: Golf's popularity swings up and down (no pun intended.) ;) It was big back in the day with Robert Palmer and Jack Nicklaus and the "gold jacket guys". It disappeared in the late 80's and early 90's, until fresh blood came in with Tiger Woods and Anika Sorenstam. Eyes, and fans, are slowly turning back to the 'ol Scottish game. I don't see it ever being as big as football - it's not a very "exciting" sport to watch. But I don't see it disappearing forever either. I think it will continue to wax and wain in popularity forever.

Car Racing: I cringe to even put this on the list. I personally (notice I said 'personally') don't consider this a "sport". To me, it's more akin to dog or horse racing. Plus now, cars driving in a circle for 4 hours can only be fun if you consume beer to dull your intelligence, and 'yuk-yuk' with your buddies between laps.
Open-wheel racing, to me, died when the IRL took over Indy Racing. Gone are the days when the races were exciting because someone had a new type of engine or car design to race with. IRL clamped the rules down to make thing's "fair" so that the idiots with hardly any sponsors could compete with the guys who had all the cash to buy whatever they needed. It's boiled the Indy series down to "who can hold the wheel left better than the others", and NOT about what RACING is all about: Who's CAR is better.
Nascar has become extremely popular in recent years, but I think it's reached a plateau itself. Anymore, most people go to the races to see a wreck, and not a race. For me, Nascar is even more boring than the rule-restrictive Indy series. The cars go slower (hard to get used to 100+ mph races when I'm used to watching 200+ mph ones), and they wreck more, causing yellow flags to be out for hours, slowing the cars on the track down even MORE. *yawn* Tell me, how can Nascars, going SLOWER, get in MORE wrecks than cars going twice their speeds?? I'm STILL confused on that one.
But, I DO see the popularity out there. I see Nascar staying the same over they years. It's got a solid & loyal fanbase. I don't see it declining a lot, unless something about the tracks or rules is changed to piss people off. I'm still hoping for that resurgence of Indy racing... minus all the car spec rules.


Well, What can we do about the sports of today? Take a page from the movies Starship Troopers or Running Man- put some more 'danger' in the sports to get people to watch- here are MY suggestions to take extreme sporting into the future!

Baseball- You're allowed to carry your bat with you around the field to use on opposing team players near you. Give the basemen gloves with spikes on them so they can fight back. Plus, the ball is weighted on one side- letting it fly wobbly or roll funny - so it's harder to hit, catch, or throw.

Basketball- take out the "foul" system. you're allowed to trip, elbow, punch or kick your way around the court- ONLY if you have the ball. Also- hogging the ball should be discouraged. Each player has only got 10 seconds to pass or shoot, before the built-in-taser sends a debilitating jolt thru the ball, knocking you out.

Football- We should liven up the mystery of the game with randomly buried land-mines. Plus, the ball is a bomb, set to go off randomly thruout the game. This should bring back the lost art of "lateraling".

Golf- How about making more than just sand or water hazards? Lava, crushed-glass, and rattlesnake pits would be interesting. Oh, and if you don't make it in on par, it becomes full-contact golf on the green with your rivals until you putt it in.

Racing- I'm taking a page out of the new Speed-Racer movie: ramps, loops, and drop-offs would make exciting additions to any track. Plus, all racers hate the "wall", so why not make it more dangerous too? have sections suddenly swing out or pop up from the ground for an 'instant roadblock' effect to avoid!

Anyone else have any ideas or comments???

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