Imagine, for a moment, that you had the power to change anything in sports to your liking with the exception of the outcome of games, but you only had 10 minutes to implement your selfish rules, no matter how bizarre or unfair they may seem to others.
Here's what I would do:
I'd start at the youth level. Every time an obnoxious parent berated an official, coach - or any player, for that matter - they'd be subject to a good old-fashioned flogging courtesy of the folks in the cheap seats. A public tar and feathering would follow, then community service.
OK, maybe just a little prison time, too.
Next, I would move on to the collegiate ranks, where I would mirror most of the rules of the professional game, other than paying athletes, which some people actually think might be beneficial somehow.
I'd move the men's basketball three-point arc back to where the pros shoot from. Heck, the women recently moved theirs back to where the men shoot, so it's time the men move back to where they belong.
I would also drop the shot clock down to 24 seconds like the pros and get rid of the National Invitation Tournament altogether.
Does anybody really watch that?
More changes in the college game would include: eliminating ties in hockey, increasing the number of football teams eligible for the new playoff system from four to eight, and most importantly, adding lifetime bans for any head coach who pleads "I just didn't know" about all of the shenanigans going on within the school's athletic program. Trust me, coaches are sticklers to detail and they know about everything that goes on.
Quickly, because 10 minutes goes by fast, to the professional sporting ranks: There, I would make sweeping changes. Among them, censoring the garbage viewers are subject to watching on the tube, primarily during NFL games.
No more GEICO commercials. No lizards, cavemen, zip-lining pigs or anything associated with their brand of humor. E*TRADE talking baby commercials, however, would receive free air time during every game.
As for the pre-game football festivities, Faith Hill would sing a variation of her "Waiting all day ..." intro before every game.
Forever. Whether she wants to or not.
And Bob Costas would retire effective immediately and move on to broadcast minor league baseball (his idea, not mine).
My mother in-law wouldn't be allowed to continuously ask me "Who's playing?" while the TV is on the RedZone channel, and I'm not responsible for putting the roast in the Crockpot on Sunday mornings, either.
Selfish enough yet?
In pro hockey, I would eliminate the shootout, instead, going from 4-on-4, to 3-on-3, down to 2-on-2, if necessary, during overtime - anything to get rid the anticlimactic shootout. Goals-against average wouldn't count for goalies once the extra time started.
I'd cut timeouts in half in the NBA and eliminate preferential "star treatment" in the foul department.
On the gridiron, I would move the kickoff back to the 30-yard line, and give serious thought to eliminating the extra point, making it mandatory to "go for two" after every touchdown and, to make kickers even more irrelevant, I would narrow the goal posts by a few feet.
Ditching the NFL Pro Bowl would be a no-brainer, too.
The MLB divisional series would become best-of-seven, the designated hitter rule would be history, and I'd let pitcher's call a four-finger salute (intentional walk), rather than wasting time playing soft-toss with the catcher. Maybe I would give consideration to adding a pitch clock to speed the game up even further.
Whew. Time's up.
Of course, none of this will ever happen ...
But a guy can dream, right?
Jeff Sauer is a longtime western Colorado resident and former Roaring Fork Valley resident. After a year of penning columns for the Post Independent, this is Sauer's final submission. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.