'If I Ruled Sports...' Our sports commentator allows himself to imagine a world where he is the "benevolent despot" of sports: lower ticket prices, no sports talk radio, and a few other things.

'If I Ruled Sports...'

'If I Ruled Sports...'

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Our sports commentator allows himself to imagine a world where he is the "benevolent despot" of sports: lower ticket prices, no sports talk radio, and a few other things.


As sports fans know, anyone can be an armchair quarterback. Commentator Frank Deford takes it one step further.


If I ruled sport, I would be a very benevolent despot. I wouldn't do a whole lot. I would lower all ticket prices, outlaw all sports radio talk shows, then cut out the long and tedious regulation seasons and make every game a playoff game. And then I would order the following changes.

First off, I would get rid of the Bowl Championship Series in college football. Even if there's obviously only two outstanding teams this year, it is idiotic why they can't have a playoff in Division I college football every year like they do at every other division in football and every other sport in the NCAA.

Next I would allow golfers to wear short pants on the PGA tour. I would bring jump balls back to basketball. If referees can't throw the ball up straight, they obviously can't think straight and don't deserve to be referees.

I would expunge the service let in tennis. That is so 19th century. I would try to eliminate noise from automobile races. Failing that, I would just have to eliminate the automobiles.

I would fire all announcers in all sports who, when giving the time of a game, always say, `There's two minutes and 12 seconds left on the clock.' Of course it's on the clock. Where do you think it is, on the sun dial? When I ask you what time it is, you say, `Frank, it's quarter past 8.' You don't say, `Frank, it's quarter past 8 on the clock.' Hello, dimwit announcers, there's two minutes and 12 seconds left, period.

I would issue a fiat that the NFL has to change its overtime rule so that both teams must be given a chance to score, not just the lucky stiffs that win the coin flip. Boy, is that the dumbest.

I would go down to Dallas today to the baseball winter meetings and I would say, `Good morning, national pastime people. It's time to use the technology of instant replay just like every other up-to-date competitor of yours--basketball, football, hockey, now even tennis.' I love the argument national pastime old fogeys use in denying what is right before our eyes. They say, `We don't want to lose the human element.' I wonder if they say that when they send their star player to the hospital to get operated on. `Oh no, not arthroscopic surgery, thank you. Just the human element, please. A scalpel to gouge and a bullet for him to bite on.'

It was the human element that invented television which allows the whole world, except the poor umpires, to see if the ball was really fair or foul or whether the ball hit the batter or whether the outfielder trapped the ball and so forth and so on. Basically, national pastime Luddites are saying, `We don't want to lose the human incompetence. We'd rather be pure and wrong and look stupid before the world.'

Actually, predecessors of the current national pastime blockheads used to be much more modern. Way back in 1895 they changed the rules to eliminate the human element so that an infielder couldn't purposely drop certain pop flies and profit by his mistake. It was called the infield fly rule. It's worked fine for a hundred and eleven years. So I would order the national pastime king canoots(ph) to get rid of the human element and accept the human advance that is instant replay.

Well, my time for being ruler of sport is almost up. There's only three seconds left on the clock.

MONTAGNE: The comments of Frank Deford, the senior contributing writer at Sports Illustrated. He joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Fairfield, Connecticut.

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