Sports | Sports Columns

TURNER: Rule changes are unnecessary

The NBA’s president of operations, Rod Thorn, revealed in an interview with ESPN that he and other members of the head office are considering the possibility of expanding the size of the court and including a four-point shot.

Four-point… what? You cannot be serious.

For people who don’t think this is a real possibility, consider this: The NFL, America’s favorite league, has made a multitude of changes in the past several years, beginning with the switch in the field position for the kickoff, which was enacted in 2011. The placement of the ball was moved to the 35-yard line, five yards closer than its previous location at the 30.

While it may not seem like much, the impact thus far has been astronomical. In the first year after the change, the number of touchbacks skyrocketed by a whopping 27.1 percent, which potentially robbed fans of one of the more thrilling aspects of the game—the possibility of seeing a kickoff returned for a touchdown. The average starting field position for teams post-kickoff was down 4.7 yards from the previous year at 22.1. And less room for a return does not make for a happy Josh Cribbs.

Even if you aren’t a numbers guy, there is no ignoring the dramatic changes in gameplay that the NFL has been implementing in the past several years, and it seems as if the NBA is beginning to follow suit.

Overall, though, rule changes in sports over the past 30 years or so have been marginal. Most have revolved around violations and penalties, with referees and umpires given more responsibilities and control of the game. Besides that, any major change could be seen as common sense, such as requiring batting helmets at the plate in the MLB, which was regulated in 1983.

So why the sudden urge to remodel professional sports? Pride? Greed? It’s certainly not out of necessity. 

The changes made already haven’t been too extreme, but adding a four-point rule in the NBA would do more than shake things up for the professionals. And can you imagine the amount of work it would take if collegiate sports made the same change? Dodge Fitness Center already needs plenty of repairs without having to worry about altering the basketball courts in Levien and the Blue Gym.

But the real tragedy isn’t that the professional sports are losing their integrity over front-office, prima-donna pride. It’s the fact that younger athletes will grow up playing games that hardly resemble what they once were. You will no longer hear a third base coach encourage runners to plow the catcher anymore. Instead it’ll most likely be, “Please ask that gentleman to move off of the plate for you.” The face of sports as a whole is changing, and maybe that’s not such a good thing.

If you really want to change professional sports and draw larger crowds, why not introduce some pre-game smack talk, like they do in “professional” wrestling? I’m sure that would draw another type of crowd to the games. Or maybe just start giving away free apparel, like Columbia does for its games.

Adding a four-point shot is certainly not the solution.  

Ryan Turner is a Columbia College sophomore. He is a former member of the men’s swimming and diving team. Blood, Sweat, and Cheers runs biweekly.

sports@columbiaspectator.com | @CUSpecSports

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