Every-Thing Sports

How the NCAA can make sports more fair (and fun)

NCAA.com

At my fulltime job, I do a lot of driving around when I do in-home consultations. So naturally I listen to the radio, music, or podcasts all day long. During the midday yesterday, I found myself listening to Sports Talk 790's In The Trenches with Greg Koch and ND Kalu. Listening to a show hosted by two former football players during a Monday while football season in going on is not a bad idea. However, what was a most awful idea was a call they took early on in their show. The caller wasn't a corny character or anything. He was an actual person. He didn't seem to be drunk or under the influence of any drugs either. But maybe he's on to something about making the NCAA enforce new rules to make college football more fair:

Road game noise ordinance

The caller to ITT said the NCAA should enforce a noise ordinance for all road games because it's not fair that the road team can't always hear what they're doing on offense. He was highly upset about it and made sure to let the laughing hosts know he has their number and will call them to let them know how he feels. I suggest the refs carry a decibel meter and immediately throw a personal foul flag on the fans. If they get a second noise ordinance personal foul, random sections would get ejected for every ensuing penalty! Free throws in basketball, penalty shots in hockey and soccer...you get my drift. (Extreme sarcasm here for the sarcasm impaired.)

Transfer Portal Day

The transfer portal is open and available to all sports, but it mainly effects football and basketball since they're the most high profile and highest revenue sports. I wrote a piece about UH's D'Eriq King redshirting leaving redshirting yesterday. Since National Signing Day and announcements alike are such a big deal, wouldn't it be cool to see Transfer Portal Day? Just think about it: what if King did decide to leave and enter the portal? He's sitting in his parent's living room or a banquet hall and in front of him are three hats...you know where I'm going with this. Besides, if they were smart, the NCAA could monetize this by selling the exclusive television rights to one of their partners for a bagillion dollars. (I'm serious about this one.)

Whiffle bats and balls

NCAA baseball has long used metal bats. That distinct ping is a rite of passage to any NCAA baseball fan to hear. Much has been made about the safety of those bats. Some have even cited them as a reason scores tend to get out of hand. There's a mercy rule in Little League baseball to prevent such scores "in the interest of fairness and sportsmanship." I propose that any time the scoring differential is more than 10 runs, the team that's ahead must use whiffle bats and be pitched to with whiffle balls. Once the opposing team is back within five runs, the opposing team can go back to using regular bats and balls. Wonder what a knuckleball would look like using a whiffle ball? (Totally joking, but halfway serious.)

20 second shot clock in basketball

If the NBA uses four quarters, 12 minutes each, with a 24 second shot clock, why does the NCAA use a 35 second shot clock for two 2o minute halves? I've never understood that. Ever since I was a very young child, I've always questioned some of these things. Two 20 minute halves is cool. They don't need to go to four quarters. But the 35 second shot clock is utterly ridiculous! A 20 second shot clock is very time appropriate. They use roughly 83.3% of the NBA's standard time, so use the same percentage of their shot clock. Scoring would go up which causes viewership to go up which would make them more money. (Dead serious here. First proposed this once when I was high with some friends in college. They thought I was tripping until I did the math. That's when they knew I was on another level when it came to sports.)

One day, I'll revisit this subject in a more serious manner because I've long held onto several ideas the NCAA should use in order to improve several sports. Maybe I'll do it sport by sport. Maybe I'll do another composite article. I also have more jokes in the arsenal. Can't empty the clip all at once. I only added commentary as to which are jokes and which ones aren't after a conversation with Brandon Strange. If you don't know him, he and Josh Jordan are responsible for making sure a lot of the content you see or watch on SportsMap gets done flawlessly. Huge thanks and props to those guys for all they do. If you want to see me appear in videos expressing these opinions, hit them up!

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James Harden returned to Houston on Wednesday night. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

"James Harden will always be a Houston Rocket" – Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, Tuesday March 2, 2021.

Really?

Then that must have been some other bearded fellow notching a triple double and leading the Brooklyn Nets to a 132-114 drubbing of the Rockets at Toyota Center, Wednesday March 3, 2021.

What a difference a day doesn't make, as the Rockets fell to their 13th consecutive defeat.

The Rockets played a tribute video for Harden, marking his first visit to Houston since the Rockets traded him, practically at gunpoint, to Brooklyn. On the same day Fertitta bizarrely fantasized that Harden will always be a Rocket, the team owner also announced that the Rockets will retire Harden's No.13.

What is wrong with you, Tilman? You sound like a jilted shnook who goes on the Jerry Springer Show to beg his runaround ex-wife to come back. Harden dumped you, remember? He wanted out of Houston so badly that he turned down your contract offer that would have made him the highest-paid athlete in American sports history.

Don't you recall his farewell comments as a Rocket? The Rockets were "just not good enough. I mean it's just crazy. It's something that I don't think can be fixed."

That's burning down the house on your way out. Not exactly Lou Gehrig's farewell speech, "Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth," and praising his Yankee manager, teammates and owners.

Sure Harden was a video game scoring machine during his eight years in Houston. But he also chased away teammates. The Rockets never won a conference title with Harden. He stunk up the joint during some playoff games and disappeared in others. Overall, Harden was a spectacular player on a consistently good but never great team. That's his legacy in Houston.

I expected a tribute video for Harden and he probably deserved it. Why not? The Rockets did similar videos for role player Trevor Ariza and Russell Westbrook, who played all of 57 games during his one pandemic-shortened season in Houston and immediately demanded a trade.

A tribute video for Westbrook? What's next, a statue of Moochie Norris outside Toyota Center? Renaming Polk Street … Vassilis Spanoulis Way?

Retiring Harden's number 13 doesn't compare to similarly honored Rockets legends who played their hearts out, brought a title home or loved this team to their last playing breath, like Hakeem Olajuwon (34), Clyde Drexler (22), Calvin Murphy (23), Rudy T (45), Moses Malone (24) and Yao Ming (11).

James Harden crapped all over the Rockets on his way out the door. He was the ultimate prima donna during his time here, moody and mopey, demanding special travel arrangements, alienating teammates and taking playoff losses so hard he almost didn't make it to the strip clubs before closing time.

You know the saying, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. In Harden's case, he got going to Brooklyn. So much for the captain going down with the ship. Wednesday night, Rockets fans greeted Harden with some cheers, but more lusty boos on his return to Houston.

"I gave him a special introduction, like a home team introduction, but there were way more boos than I expected," said Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas.

Harden finished with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists, a routine triple double for him of late. He controlled the Nets offense and dominated the game.

Of course it was a regular season game. It's what he does.

For those of you scoring at home: the NBA team with the most retired numbers is the Boston Celtics, with 22 jerseys "hanging in the rafters." That's the most of any team in any U.S. pro sport. The New York Yankees are next with 21 retired numbers. The Montreal Canadiens lead the NHL with 15 retired numbers. Not coincidentally, the Celts (17 – tied with Lakers), Yanks (27) and Habs (24) all lead their leagues with the most championships.

The NFL team with the most retired numbers is a strange one. It's the Chicago Bears with 14 jerseys that will never be worn again. The Bears have won nine titles, second to the Green Bay Packers with 13 championships.

Harden's jersey will not be the first "13" hoisted over an NBA court – far from it. Three teams, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Golden State have retired Wilt Chamberlain's No. 13. The Harlem Globetrotters also retired The Stilt's jersey, but I guess they don't count.

The Cavaliers retired Bobby Phills' No. 13 after his fatal car crash. Portland retired Dave Twardzik's jersey. Here's some synergy, the Suns retired Harden's current coach Steve Nash's No. 13. And the Spurs retired the No. 13 jersey of James Silas (no relation to Rockets coach Stephen Silas.

And as Charlie Pallilo – and only Charlie Pallilo – will tell you, the first retired number in North American pro sports history belonged to Ace Bailey of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs retired his number in 1934 after Bailey suffered a career-ending injury the year before.

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