Fixing Professional Sports Keeps Seats Full and Optimizes Television Coverage

I Said This 20 Years Ago

By James Turnage:

I read the article in the Guardian about fixing professional sports. Over 20 years ago I had a solution for two of them. Here are those and two more.

Basketball: It’s really very simple, raise the basket six inches. It will help to discourage the boring slam dunk and force the pros to play like they did in college where the game is much more exciting.

Baseball: I don’t know the exact number, but many years ago someone suggested allowing only three “balls” in the strike count. If pitchers were forced to throw more strikes, more strikes would mean more hits, more hits would result in more runs. The other suggestion I have is an either or situation. Take away the pitcher’s mound. This would reduce the velocity. Or move it back to an even 70 feet. It is now 60 feet 6 inches. Again, it would give the batter a fraction of a second longer to see the pitch. Result, more hits.

Football: Stop changing the rules. There are no fewer injuries now than before the commissioner tried to turn the game into field hockey. Make better equipment, and train better, don’t take away the game.

Hockey: Also simple. Widen the rink. If defensemen had to cover more area more passing lanes would open up, and therefore more goals.

I saved the most important factor that would save professional sports for last. Stop paying ridiculous salaries, and make the contracts three years long and no more. If a player does better each three years, increase his pay. If he has shown a reduction in performance, negotiate a decrease.

I could give you many examples of overpaid athletes, and what their contracts do to fan attendance, partly because of the price of a ticket. But the best and most obvious is Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees foolishly signed him to a 10 year, 275 million dollar contract. In the post season he has shown he was barely worth a 1 year 275,000 dollar contract.

Two of the four sports will never change. Hockey would never be able to, mostly because of Canada, who would never allow a major change to their national sport. The other is, of course, baseball. The reasons are much the same as Hockey. They are both mistaken. Only two things count for professional sports, keeping the seats full, and optimizing television coverage.

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