What rule changes would you like to see in the major sports?

Submitted by TheGhostofYost on March 10th, 2013 at 11:43 PM

Trying to take my mind off the tough loss tonight, I was thinking about rule changes that I would like to see in college football and basketball (or any other sport).  Here are a few that I was pondering:

1. Shorten the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds. I'll call this the Anti-Bo-Ryan Rule.

2. Move the 3 point line back to NBA distance. Teams have become too reliant on it, and it hurts the game in my opinion.

3. Eliminate the jump ball rule.  If the offense can't maintain possession without getting tied up, the defense should be awarded the ball. It's crazy that we have 5 and 3 second calls, but if the offense puts the ball right in the defenders hands, they might get it back.

4. Eliminate the block/charge call. Stop looking for the "taking a charge pose" that has us all laughing at/hating Duke and Indiana.  Call contact like you would any other foul.

5. I'd like to see the 1 and 1 rule altered, though I'm not sure how. Statistically, it gives the fouling team too much in terms of risk/reward.  The median offensive efficiency for CFB teams is .986 points per possession.  The average FT shooting percentage is below 70%. The statistical difference here between getting one point from a bonus situation and one point for a typical possesion is, for me, not enough of a penalty for a team intentionally fouling late in the game.  I'll call this the "I'm pissed about how today's game ended" rule, but this is the one I feel strongest about.  The numbers just do not support a 1 and 1 situation.

6. In football, make holding a 5 yard penalty.  The vast majority of sacks aren't ten yards, and most holdings don't prevent a sack/create a play over ten yards.  The average yards per play is about 5.4. 

7. If a team is intentionally committing a safety, a holding penalty should place the time of the play back on the clock and the yardage should be assessed on the kickoff. 

8. If a team intentionally fouls in the last 2 minutes, it is automatically double bonus. 

What do you think?  What are some rules that you would like to see changed?

Edit:  I can't count. Numbers adjusted. I'll also add a #8.



Ali G Bomaye

March 11th, 2013 at 11:42 AM ^

I don't want anything that encourages or enables teams to commit more fouls.  If your players can't go without committing a foul every six minutes (average starter PT is around 30 minutes), then it's good that they're out of the game.  Our team has shown this year that it's possible to play solid D without fouling.

South Bend Wolverine

March 10th, 2013 at 11:54 PM ^

Easy: intent to blow in hockey is the worst rule in all of sports and should be dropped immediately in favor of the objective "when the whistle actually went" rule.  Second worst rule in sports is the puck-out-of-play rule in hockey, where it is a 2-minute minor.  The rule should be the same as icing - face-off in your own zone & you can't make any changes.  Since I'm on hockey, for good measure get rid of the stupid trapezoid in the NHL & let goalies handle the puck wherever they like.


March 10th, 2013 at 11:57 PM ^

I like these kinds of discussions. So I'll take yours in order:

1. I like this. I don't care about the Bo Ryan issue; I prefer the college game in many ways, but I think there are a number of NBA rules that are superior, and the shot clock is one of them. A reduction would be good.

2. Not sure I'm a fan of the 3-point line move. I like that they've bumped it back a bit, but I don't know that it's necessary at the college level. 

3. Intriguing idea. Not sure if it's necessary, though--having the alternate jump ball seems a bit random, but it's still a good play for defense and a not-so-good play for offense regardless of the result. If you're on defense and you don't have the arrow, getting a jump is still good since it switches the arrow without jeopardizing your own team's possession. 

I think making the call always benefit the defense would have unintended consequences.

4. I like how the pros handle fouls as well. Obviously, they use quarters and limit fouls to 5. I also prefer having the extra foul available (granted, both games have a "1 foul per 8 minutes" proportion) because it eliminates the chance that a bad call or two could eliminate a key player for 10-15 minutes of the first half. On the other hand, having a 1-and-1 does make the penalty for excessive fouls gradually more severe, which seems nice. 

5. I don't think limiting a holding penalty to 5 yards would be sufficient. We'd see a lot more holding in that case; the average sack may be only a bit over 5 yards, but the sacks prevented by holding tend to be on the long end of it. Tackling a defender from behind would be an easy play on any 7-step drop.

6. Isn't this basically just a "Super Bowl" rule? Not sure the impact warrants a change in the rules. What I would support would be more discretion for the offended team to adjust time in late-game situations when a team with the lead commits a penalty on a play that has used up time. 


March 11th, 2013 at 12:19 AM ^

I understand where you're coming from, but I was so impressed with what they did that I figured it's not worth addressing. It was a rare situation and they took advantage. OTOH, if you were to give every team the option of a re-play with the same clock after a penalty by the leading team in any circumstance...


March 11th, 2013 at 5:28 AM ^


What do you  mean manipulation? They aren't changing rules. I think you mean "taking advantage", and why wouldn't they? Every team every play is getting the greatest advantage they can within the rules to win. You take advantage of what the rules allow in terms of play call, formations, trick plays, personnel on the field, etc.

Also, an average loss of 5.4 on a sack is exactly why a holding penalty should be 10 yards. If it was 5, they'd hold so much more because it'd be advantageous. What would an offense rather have? 2nd and 15 or 16 after a sack or 1st and 15 after a holding penalty?


March 10th, 2013 at 11:57 PM ^

And 6. I also think that they should let at least one penalty to be reviewed, that is close enough to the play that might make a difference in crucial downs. Blatant pass interference or such that reffs miss.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:00 AM ^

that allows a suspension for a match penalty to be extended until the other party can return. Normally I would say penalizing based on injury is not a good practice, but in a situation where the officials on the ice determined that it was a legitimate attempt to injure an opponent and the leauge agrees (does the NHLPA have a voice in the review process or is it only Shanahan?), there should be a provision for keeping the offending player off the ice longer for causing a more severe injury.

Also, along the lines of a match penalty, there needs to be a football penalty more damaging to the offending team than fifteen yards. From a purely game-theory standpoint, Michigan opponents would have benefited from intentionally injuring Denard these past few years, and that doesn't make sense.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:02 AM ^

I think that the NCAA refs should call intentional fouls on the fouls at the end of the game.  Mostly I think this because they aer intentionall fouls.


Indiana won today because their guy smacked the shit out of Glen Robinson while he was going in for a dunk to put us up 6 with less than a minute to go.  

I don't think you should be able to break the rules to benefit your self.



March 11th, 2013 at 12:04 AM ^

A Relegation/Promotion System in college and pro sports.  Think about having the top 2 or 3 MAC teams moving up to the BIG 10 while the lower 2-3 teams in the BIG 10 move down. 

It would be interesting  having the top AAA teams in the Major League while teams like the Houston Astros would move down  a league. 





March 11th, 2013 at 12:17 AM ^

People have been writing articles suggesting this for decades, but it will never work and will never happen. The culture and business of professional sports in America bears little resemblance to that of England or other European countries. In those countries, every city, town, and village has its own soccer team; there are no competing leagues. The play under the same governing body under the same rules.

In our country, we have franchises based in big cities with strong regional support. People who live in Michigan support the Tigers, but also the Red Wings and Pistons and Lions to varying extents. Those are their teams. If baseball were like English Soccer, every suburb would have its own pro or semi-pro team. The Tigers, if they were even Detroit's only team, would probably be the most successful, but Grand Rapids and Flint would field decent clubs too, and Lansing would be perpetually getting relegated and promoted. It would all be run by a "Great Lakes Baseball League" federation that included teams from Ohio ("Can Toledo rise above mid-table? Will the Indians be satisfied with another Champion's League berth? Will Columbus ever get promoted out of the second division with all the hooligans in their stadium?"), Indiana ("Scrappy Gary beats rival Fort Wayne again. Indianapolis always mid-table. South Bend celebrates another year of third division by inviting Manti Te'o to address its thousands of fake fans."), Illinois ("The Cubs Stink"), Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario. 

The sports are just organized differently and fans are conditioned differently. I don't think a lot of Lansing Lugnuts fans secretly long to face off against the arrogant Detroit Tigers; they like both. And the like college football and the NBA and the NHL. In England, you have soccer and a bunch of third-tier sports that don't have nearly the same following. It's just not the same.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:05 AM ^

The NFL needs to fix pass interference. There are times a defender totally mauls a guy that would otherwise make an easy catch, but just as often (or more often) a mild bit of contact on a barely catchable ball results in a PI call that advances the football 20-30 yards on a play that may well have been incomplete anyway. I much prefer the college 15-yard rule, with only the narrow exception that a flagrant takedown in the end zone should get a spot on the two.



March 11th, 2013 at 5:30 AM ^

I hate how in the NFL PI on the defense immediately assumes that the receiver would've caught the ball, but on the offense (in the very rare case that it's called) it results in a 15 yard penalty AND THE DOWN BEING REPLAYED. Shouldn't the equivalent be an automatic turnover?

In a more general sense, though - what's wrong with a little bit of contact past five yards? I'm not saying some should be allowed to tackle someone, or grab ahold of them. But if a defensive player puts his hand on a receiver and pushes him a bit and the pass is incomplete because of it, I feel like that receiver ought to get in the weight room and suck it up.

Or even better, what's wrong with face-guarding? Why is that almost an automatic penalty in the NFL? Or, if a DB has position on an underthrown ball and the receiver runs into him, why the hell is that a penalty on the defense?

In general, I think pass interference is one of the least consistent, least sensible, least "football" rule in football. This is, of course, coming from a former DB.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:09 AM ^

I always found it annoying that offensive players can face mask in football (by stiff arming)

I also hate the jump ball in college... i'd be okay with giving the "tie" to the defender, but i'd also be okay with making them actually jump for it.

In baseball, they really should let the players play the game (w/r/t warning both sides without at least letting the other team retaliate once.)

I think that's all i got.

panthera leo fututio

March 11th, 2013 at 12:48 AM ^

I think that the decrease in offensive efficiency under a 25-second clock would be great enough to lead to a net decrease in scoring, even with the added possessions. At the college level, I just don't see there being enough guys who can consistently generate quality shots out of nothing to make the short clock work.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:20 AM ^

1. Agree 1000%

2. I don't think this is a problem in cbb. 3-point %'s seem where they should be (no longer sky-high, not too low), and I don't think enough players are ready to take that extra step back.

3. Definitely the most interesting rule change in my opinion. It is always frustrating when you work so hard to get a jump ball, and yet have no chance of getting the ball back. Would be interesting to hear stephenrjking elaborate on bad unintended consequences of this rule change.

4. I do think this should be changed, and I think the NBA does a better job of it...not sure how to articulate the differences, but definitely start there.

5. I hated the 1-and-1 today, but the possibility of choking/being captain clutch is an exciting part of the game that I don't think needs tinkering.

6. Not sure holding needs to be changed penalty-wise, I just wish they'd be more consistent ala the block/charge call in cbb.

7. Meh obscure rules are obscure.

8. Sounds good to me. Or better yet, forc refs to call an intentional foul even if it means the team they are rooting to win will suredly lose.

A Lot of Milk

March 11th, 2013 at 12:21 AM ^

Excessive celebration penalties in cfb. Some of the best plays of all time would have been called back because of this rule (see: Hello Heisman). I personally don't care when other teams celebrate against Michigan, because I know we can dish it back. It makes cfb more fun to watch when kids can use their creativity and emotions.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:35 AM ^

While I think there should be an excessive celebration penalty, the rule they have is way too strict.  I would say flag anything that is clearly orchestrated (no line dancing) or clearly intended to show up an opponent, or that delays the game.  Let everything else go.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:21 AM ^

Coaches will never let it happen, but they need to reduce the number of time outs in basketball. I like the old school days of three total for a whole game, but I would be happy with two in the first half and three in the second. Having five timeouts in each half is ridiculous. You can tell the players even get sick of their coaches constantly calling end of game time outs instead of just letting them play.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:30 AM ^

In soccer, make it more difficult to convert on a penalty kick.  This might sound counterintuitive but soccer refs know if they calls a penalty in the box they're basically giving a team a goal, so they tend to swallow their whistles.  Make PKs more of a 50-50 thing and you'll probably see more open play in front of the goal.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:32 AM ^

1) Change the block/charge in college to favor the offense.

2) Call hand checking in college basketball to go along with a 30 second shot clock.

3) Illegal contact in the NFL should not be an automatic first down.

4) This is the one I am most adamant about: excessive celebration penalties should be only a 5 yard penalty. 15 yards for a 100% interpretive call is excessive.

5) The rule on what is a catch needs to be simplified in football.


March 11th, 2013 at 6:43 AM ^

Here's the NFL rule on what constitutes a "catch":

A player who makes a catch may advance the ball. A forward pass is complete (by the offense) or intercepted (by the defense) if a player, who is inbounds:

(a) secures control of the ball in his hands or arms prior to the ball touching the ground; and

(b) touches the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands; and

(c) maintains control of the ball long enough, after (a) and (b) have been fulfilled, to enable him to perform any act common to the game (i.e., maintaining control long enough to pitch it, pass it, advance with it, or avoid or ward off an opponent, etc.).

So, the famous example of getting hosed by this one is likely the Calvin Johnson  "should have been a TD, damnit" against the Bears. My biggest problem with this rule is that determining how long is long enough to engage in the necessary second act is 100% subjective by the rule's wording and, on TD catches, what is the "second act" if you've maintained possession for a couple seconds? It is worth noting that there is also a rule which states that if a player catches the ball in the end zone and the ball comes loose due to contact by a defender before the receiver is down by contact, that this is a catch (therefore a TD) and a dead ball.

I wish the NFL rulebook would make up its mind sometimes. I agree that there needs to be a somewhat more accessible definition of "catch". 


March 11th, 2013 at 8:51 AM ^

Maybe it's revisionist history on my part, but I seem to remember a time when a catch was much more stringent and if the ball touched the ground at all, it was incomplete.  Now we have all these stupid replays trying to determine whether the ground aided the catch and Jim Harbaughs going apeshit after something that totally should have been incomplete.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:42 AM ^

Makes no sense. I have never understood how an offensive player tipping in a basket was made illegal if the ball is in a virtually impossible to determine from most angles imaginary cylinder. Defensive goaltending makes sense.


March 11th, 2013 at 5:36 AM ^

But is the defense allowed to take the ball at that point where the offense would now be allowed to put it back in while it's still in the cylinder? The only time I can think of defensive goaltending being called is when the ball is coming down in the first place. I agree that should stay, but if you allow easier putbacks for the offense without the defense also being allowed to snatch it (I don't think they are allowed), that would be a ridiculously unfair advantage for the offense. If I understand what the rules are now and what you're proposing, the offense is the only side allowed to touch the ball around the rim, so the defense just stands there looking on as the offense is able to get easy put-back after easy put-back.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:46 AM ^

I say make all free throws resulting from non shooting fouls optional. Would rather keep the ball with a fresh shot clock than send a shooter to the line? Coach's call. Just like in football when a coach can accept or decline a penalty. The team being fouled should receive the decided advantage. I think this would result in the better team winning more often*. Would also eliminate hack-a-Shaq strategy and keep the final two minutes of games from dragging out into 30 minute foul fests.

*Not necessarily saying we were better tonight.


March 11th, 2013 at 12:53 AM ^

Exactly.  It's mind-boggling to me that the team being fouled could actually be at a statistical disadvantage given their offensive efficiency and free throw shooting.  Obviously I'm biased because of what happened today, but I don't think an ending like we saw today is really in the spirit of college basketball.  Fouls should be penalties, not rewards.


March 11th, 2013 at 1:18 AM ^

From a large-sample perspective, the fact that "teams being fouled could actually be at a statistical disadvantage" does seem counter to what I want to watch as a fan and what a sport should promote.

However, choking is a huge part of sports and I think it is exactly in the spirit of college basketball. Being put on the big stage and either shining or failing is central to the spirit of sports.