Don’t know if you heard the news, but I’ve just been appointed czar of the sports world. And with the title comes the omnipotence to make any changes I desire. So, here are some of the modifications I intend to make. (Please be advised that some of these edicts are being delivered with tongue planted firmly in cheek, while others I’m dead serious about. Also be advised that I’m doing this job for free, so you get what you pay for.)
• Each NFL team will be eligible for the playoffs. Hey, Buffalo Bills fans, after their absence from the playoffs for 14 going on 15 years, you’ve suffered long enough. To heck with genius coaches and franchise quarterbacks. I’ve just found a foolproof way to end the famine.
• Commissioners in all sports will be elected by the fans. That means the fans, not the owners, will be their bosses.
• Ticket prices to all professional and major college events have just been reduced by 25 percent.
• Every professional athlete will be required to take and pass courses about the history of his or her sport and community. We also might want to educate them about the Copernican theory so they’ll understand that the universe doesn’t revolve around them. Failure to pass the courses will result in fines or suspensions. I don’t think it’s too taxing for an athlete to learn that Babe Ruth, Magic Johnson and Red Grange weren’t cartoon characters.
• Each high school and college team will be required to spend one day a week doing community service work. Many already do, but I want every team involved. It’s a great way to give back, build esprit de corps and develop much-needed perspective about what’s truly important.
• I’m awarding the 2022 PGA to Oak Hill Country Club.
• The NCAA is being abolished and will be replaced by a new governing body for college sports. We don’t need a rules manual as thick as the Oxford English Dictionary, just a little common sense. And we will commence paying student athletes at Division I schools a stipend. Believe me, with billion-dollar television contracts, we’ll be able to figure out a way for a kid to have a little spending money.
• We’re going to speed up the pace of baseball games by requiring batters to remain in the box and pitchers to deliver pitches within 15 seconds of receiving the ball back from the catcher. Step out and it will be a strike. Fail to throw the ball in the allotted time and it will be a ball. Also, we are cutting back on the number of commercials between innings. No need for three minutes of commercials each time the third out is recorded. This should shave a half hour to 45 minutes from each game.
• Youth league coaches, administrators and parents will be required to take courses on sportsmanship, equal opportunities for all and how to make sure the experience is fun for the kids.
• Regular-season college football games will be played on Saturdays only.
• The Baseball Hall of Fame Game in Cooperstown will be revived. Sorry, guys, but you can play one in-season exhibition game to benefit the place that houses your history.
• I’m awarding Connor McDavid—the next Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, fill in the blank—to the Buffalo Sabres, because, like their Bills brethren, Sabres fans have suffered long enough.
• Beginning next year, we’re eliminating the 10,000 meaningless bowl games and starting a 16-team college football tournament, with the possibility of expanding it to 24 or 32 teams the following year.
• I’m naming the Chicago Cubs the 2018 World Series Champions, ending what will then be a 110-year drought.
• We’re changing the rules regarding NFL pass coverage. Defensive backs now will be allowed to breathe on receivers, give them dirty looks and even make a little contact at times.
• To benefit Triple-A baseball teams such as the Rochester Red Wings, we’re reviving in-season exhibitions with the parent clubs.
• Shoeless Joe Jackson will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He’s been dead since 1951, so he’s already fulfilled his lifetime banishment—and then some. Pete Rose’s name will be placed on the writers’ ballot. I’ll allow the writers and the veterans committees to decide whether Charlie Hustle belongs.
• I’m banning any holiday commercials featuring Michael Bolton from all sports telecasts. Believe me, we all suffered enough last year.
• I’m un-retiring all of the Yankees’ retired numbers with the exceptions of Babe Ruth’s No. 3, Lou Gehrig’s No. 4, Joe DiMaggio’s No. 5, Mickey Mantle’s No. 7, Yogi Berra’s No. 8, Whitey Ford’s No. 16 and Mariano Rivera’s No. 42. We’re also retiring Derek Jeter’s No. 2. All of the others whose numbers were previously retired will keep their plaques in Monument Park, which is essentially the Bronx Bombers’ Hall of Fame.
• An independent panel will evaluate whether an athlete and commissioner earned their money and adjust their salary for the following season accordingly. If they failed to meet expectations, they’ll be docked, with the money being donated to a program that gives free tickets to children—particularly those from lower socio-economic levels, so that they, too, can have an opportunity to see their sports heroes live.
• With the exception of Thanksgiving, there will be no more Thursday NFL games.
• Once Terry Pegula builds his new stadium, I’m awarding the Super Bowl and college basketball’s final four to Buffalo.
• I’m declaring Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, Notre Dame Stadium, Lambeau Field, the Rose Bowl and the L.A. Coliseum historic landmarks, so they can’t be torn down the way the original Yankee Stadium was.
Scott Pitoniak is a best-selling author, nationally honored columnist, daily radio show co-host and television correspondent. You can listen to him Monday-Friday from 3-7 on 95.7 FM, AM 950 or www.espnrochester.com, and watch him on WROC-TV Sunday mornings at 10:30 on “Inside the Buffalo Blitz.”
11/21/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.