Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Improving Professional Sports

Whew. Midterms are over... time to get back at it.

I was approached by a co-worker and asked how I could make the NHL more appealing to Americans. Interest in hockey around the United States spiked during the 2-week period of the Olympic hockey tournament. But how can that interest continue to thrive?

Names like Ryan Miller, Zach Parise and Brian Rafalski have become household now in the States and that is a start. In order for more interest among Americans to grow, Americans must get to know their players! The NHL does a good job at promoting its young talent. Most people would recognize names like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin and that is due to the NHL (over)promoting them. Now it's time for the NHL or USA Hockey to promote their players, familiarize the public with their country's stars. Obviously people have really taken to Miller and Parise, and there are plenty of other great American players out there.

So there is the player aspect, how about the game aspect? How great was that Gold medal game? Huge numbers watched the game. It was tabbed as the biggest and most important hockey game ever played in North America. Bob Costas said it was one of the most exciting sporting events he has ever witnessed. But how does Olympic hockey compare to NHL competition?
Overall... the NHL is a better brand of hockey compared to the pool play of the Olympics. Now, nothing beats playoff hockey where desperation is at its highest (FYI--playoffs begin in April!) So if you were into Olympic hockey, why not try out the NHL? Some rules are different (fighting IS allowed) and the quality of play is better. The best of the best who play hockey, play in the NHL. You don't see these mismatches like Canada/Norway or Russia/Belarus... each NHL team has talent that is worth watching. Also, just one night, watch SportsCenter's top 10 plays of the day... I guarantee you will see a play or two from the rink that will be the prettiest thing you've seen on ice since Sasha Cohen.

So there you have it. Get to know your American players and sit down and watch a game, learn some rules and it will grasp you in some way!

What other sport can we improve?? How about the NFL! America's most popular sport, hands down, is undergoing some revamping. Their overtime rules have been the worst thing about the sport. First to score works in the NHL (5 minute 4-on-4 session) but due to the flow of the game, each team gets shots at the victory in hockey. That is not the case in the NFL where often times, if you win the coin-toss, the results favor that team. Around 52% of teams that win the toss, win the game.
The new proposed overtime rules would guarantee each team a possession unless the first team puts 6 on the board. Then, its game over. This is a slight improvement but not a solution. So what is a solution? Glad you asked. How about a "kick-off". This would work much like a shoot-out does in the NHL to end a scoreless O.T. period. We begin by starting at the 15-yard line and much like the Kansas Plan in college football, each kicker gets a crack at that distance. After each successful round, the ball is placed 5-yards back. Kickers continue to attempt these field goals until one misses and giving us a winner! Perfect.
It is fair, it is high drama and it ends any possibility of ties. Plus it will eliminate any sort of confusion with overtime rules (ahem...Donovan?)

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