Sunday, September 20, 2009

On The Future of American Football

I caught part of a football game on TV for the first time this year. I didn't personally know anybody on either team, and the outcome didn't impact my personal life one way or another, so I had no interest in who won the game.

Now that I've demonstrated that I'm not a good example of the proper American sports fan, let me mention why I find football very disappointing. It has the potential to enable a great deal of creativity and excitement in the games, with both teams regularly scoring above 75 points. Instead, it often seems that it has advanced only marginally from the days of Knute Rockne and the Fighting Irish in the 1920's. If coaches were REALLY serious about exploring some innovative ways to win, this is what I would expect to see in American football:

1) The last play of the first half should ALWAYS be a long pass into the endzone, or a field goal attempt. The only excuse for not doing this is sheer laziness. There are currently too many overpaid lazy coaches in the NFL for my taste.

2) A ball carrier should never run out of bounds, or allow himself to be easily pushed out of bounds, unless he is trying to stop the clock.

3) A center should always hike the ball when the defense jumps offsides. This should be basic fundamentals that every team does starting in high school.

4) Teams should go for it more on 4th down.

5) All punts should be towards a sideline. If someone on the opposing team caches a punt and starts to run it back, the punter failed his job.

6) No huddle offense with a quick snap and a shot-gun formation should be the norm. This business of giving the defense time to check out the offensive formation and get organized is just silly.

7) Rugby players have clearly shown that you can do multiple laterals per play reliably after some practice. It should be common in football to see multiple laterals per play.

8) Runs into the middle of the line should be very rare. Why do coaches still insist on running plays into where the greatest concentration of defensive players are? Makes no sense to me.

9) Most plays should be designed to score a touchdown when properly executed. If a play is only designed to get 5-10 yards, it seems that the coaching staff only did half their planning job.

10) Get rid of the damn nets behind the goal posts. Let fans keep any balls that go into the stands. It means a lot to the fans with the worst seats in the stadium, and trying to claim that it's too expensive for NFL teams to loose a dozen or so footballs per game is basically treating the fans like they're complete idiots who will believe absolutely any lie you tell them.

11) Fans need to form unions to prevent team and stadium owners from treating them as poorly as they do. There's no excuse for owners to abuse loyal fans so badly, or to tolerate lazy coaching staffs that refuse to bring the game into the 21st century, and there's no excuse for fans to accept this. When I see the first attempt by sports fans to form their own union, then maybe I'll regain some interest in football again.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it :-)
Mike Ignatowski