I’m trying to take advantage of the pause caused by COVID-19 to make real changes in my life. But I thought I’d take a break from working on personal growth — ‘‘relentlessly positive’’ is my new mantra — to solve everything that’s wrong with sports, which
are a cesspool could use some freshening up.
Suggestions to make the world a better place:
NBA: Ban James Harden!
If not Harden, then Harden’s game, which, if it were any more self-absorbed, would involve just him, a basketball and a full-length mirror.
Harden is creating a whole generation of flopping, Euro-stepping (traveling) and look-at-me players. He’s a terrific athlete who can get his shot whenever he wants. But whatever it is he’s doing, it’s not basketball. It’s a show about a guy playing basketball. It’s like watching ‘‘There Will Be Blood,’’ which is basically a movie about Daniel Day-Lewis’ acting skills.
Ban players who flop on three-point attempts and who travel with the ball every time they go to the hoop. Save basketball! Signed: Old Guy.
NHL: Force players and coaches to say something — anything — that might be considered even remotely interesting.
Lots of hockey fans think NHL players are good, wholesome and all that is right with the world. By this, they mean, ‘‘They’re not at all like NBA players.’’ Unfortunately, being proper and self-effacing doesn’t make for great postgame interviews.
Not bringing attention to oneself is Canada’s national pastime. It’s why TV interviews with hockey players and coaches almost always turn into a series of guttural filler words (‘‘um’’ and ‘‘uh’’) and throat-clearings. Nothing about it screams, ‘‘Ratings bonanza!’’
A system of fines would solve the scourge of boring quotes and sound bites. For example, if a player doesn’t rightly call out an opponent for having bad breath and no talent, it’ll cost him $10,000. Conversely, staid Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton will earn a bonus each time he uses the terms ‘‘po-po’’ and ‘‘OG.’’
MLB: Managers no longer will be allowed to wear their teams’ uniforms.
Few things are more incongruous than the sight of a group of in-shape athletes and a manager whose paunch reaches the mound three feet before he does wearing the same clothes. Nothing will send you into therapy quicker than seeing an old man in a Speedo on a beach, and this certainly isn’t that. But save us from this minor horror. Make managers wear sweat pants and sweat shirts. Or three-piece suits. Anything.
Actually, I have a better idea. If baseball insists on managers wearing their teams’ uniforms, then coaches in other sports have to wear their teams’ uniforms, too. That means Gregg Popovich in a Spurs jersey and shorts, Matt Nagy in Bears gear — helmet and eye black included — and Joel Quenneville in a Panthers sweater and padded hockey pants.
Wait, Popovich’s pasty white legs made public? What am I rooting for here? Whom am I punishing?
NFL: New rule: Six times a game, a head coach can shut off the opposing head coach’s headset, forcing the opposing quarterback to call the play.
Imagine a coach about to make a call on third-and-10 late in the fourth quarter, his team down by a touchdown, with 70,000 opposing fans screaming at him. Imagine him not being able to send in the play to his quarterback because the opposing coach has blocked him from doing so. Imagine a camera capturing his apoplectic fit. And imagine the quarterback being put in the position of figuring out the best way to proceed.
Football is the most over-coached sport in the world, though baseball is trying its best to catch up. This would be a way to take the coaches’ grip off the game, even for a little bit. And it would be a way to see which quarterbacks use their heads the best. Perhaps Nagy, not Mitch Trubisky, has been the Bears’ problem? If only my rule had been in place sooner!
PGA: No more pretending that golf is a religious experience.
No more sappy music played during broadcasts of The Masters, no more talk about golf being a gentleman’s game (not with Patrick Reed playing it) and no more noise about the Ryder Cup as the Mt. Everest of sports pressure.
It’s a game in the same way that basketball is, filled with the same imperfect human beings with the same problems, only wearing bright green pants and speaking Swedish.
And, yes, it is a bit goofy that golf fans dress like the players they’re watching. You don’t see hockey fans wearing shin guards and skates to games. But I’ve already banned Joe Maddon’s protruding gut from a baseball uniform. I don’t want to turn into the apparel police. Perhaps golf fans will do some soul-searching and adjust without the imposing of sanctions. If not, I’ll take a scissors to their checkered vests.
UFC: If you have cauliflower ears, don’t even bother stepping into the octagon.
I can sit through the blood of a mixed-martial-arts bout. I sometimes can sit through the dullness of two athletes locked in a seemingly unbreakable wrestling hold for five minutes at a time. I can’t look at cauliflower ears, which are caused by blunt trauma and look like something out of a low-budget science-fiction movie. Wrestlers and boxers often develop them. They are God’s way of saying, ‘‘You might want to stop doing that.’’
You want to participate in the UFC? Use headgear in practice and in competition. Your ears and my eyes will thank you.
There. I feel better. Really? Yes. I’m positive.