So, Conor Friedersdorf had a big-think piece this week about how he'd like to reform major sports for the twitter age. His argument (for better or worse) is that between shorter attention spans and DVRs and whatever, the major team sports need some perking up. I don't really agree, but it's an excuse to actually blog about my opinion about basketball as a spectator sport, so: hey, I'll play.
I'll start with the NFL, which Friedersdorf oddly believes is fast-paced. This is some sort of oddball fantasy world that some football fans live in...football is, of course, fast-paced only in very, very short bursts, which are surrounded by everyone sitting around waiting. However, as it turns out DVRs were made for football, because you can get behind and then forward through the huddle (or, if you're lucky, you have one of those "move ahead" buttons that you can hit as plays end. At least, that's how I watch football these days. Doesn't everyone? The only problem is that I used to read the Sunday paper during NFL games, and now I actually focus on the game (but get through it very quickly).
Baseball? As with the NFL, baseball is wildly popular. It doesn't need significant changes (the big changes MLB needs have to do with season/postseason structure, but I'll save those for another time). Friedersdorf has a goofy, gimicky idea about swapping outs...read about it if you want, but I'm not impressed. I do wonder whether casual fans watch baseball the way I watch football...in the future, we'll all have a programmable button to shift ahead a few seconds, and people will use that; my own system's button misses a pitch if I use it (which I guess means, in case you're not paying attention carefully, that there appears to be more down time in football than baseball).
Ah, but then we get to the NBA, and the actual excuse for this post. Friedersdorf is on the right track here: he wants to save up all free throws, and then only award the excess ones to the team entitled to more. Good idea; free throws are, in fact, horribly boring.
But not good enough. Look, the problem with organized basketball, at all levels, is that it just isn't as good a game as pickup basketball. The clock stinks, free throws stink, the whole thing is wrong.
Here's what they should do: they should play to a number, just like pickup games are played. No foul shots; if you're fouled, you get the ball back. You do, however, keep personal fouls, so a guy can still foul out over the course of a night (and if that's not enough, perhaps you award two personals on a flagrant foul, or whatever).
As for the structure of the game -- I'm pretty flexible on that. My guess would be something like this: at the professional level, over the course of one "game" night the teams would play, say, five games to 21 (win by two!), with each of those games counting as a point in the standings, and another point to the team that won the most games. Again, I don't know the exact formula, but the idea is to get rid of clock management and just play ball. I'm assuming that you wouldn't need a shot clock; if it turned out that you did (if, say, teams were waiting too long to get the absolutely perfect shot), the go ahead and add one.
Now, obviously, this is very high in the category of things we'll never see. But I'm really convinced I'm right about it.
OK, that's it. Feel free to beat up on me, NBA fans.