Now is the time to rethink sports as we know them

 
 
Updated 6/14/2020 5:53 PM

With everything ground to a halt, or just starting to grind back to life, there is no better time to rethink what we do.

Government, medicine, education, the workplace, how we shop, how we dine, how we travel, our allegiance to miserable teams, watching games of bags on TV.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Everything. Sports are no different.

Some changes might come about organically, a result of how nasty and easily communicable COVID-19 is. Should there still be a postgame handshake line? Should all football players wear hockey-style face shields? How can basketball players defend themselves during games or practices from the spread of this virus?

Those are a couple of the ideas being bandied about to allow the games to go on while trying to reduce the danger to athletes to a reasonable level -- whatever that is.

Why stop there? The imagination wanders.

Already leagues and teams have been forced into outside-the-box thinking. Some of that is short-term thinking: How to finish a season in flux, or restart a season that barely got going, if it began at all?

The NBA reportedly is considering a later start to its season this year. Should that become normal? Maybe start in December and play just 62 regular-season games instead of 82? Maybe then we also could cut back on some of the games players miss to get some rest.

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Wouldn't you love to see basketball and hockey played on larger playing surfaces? If only it were easier to expand arenas to allow for those larger courts and rinks.

If baseball is restructuring its minor leagues, maybe it should also consider some type of promotion and relegation system. If the St. Louis Cardinals finish in last place one year, they drop to Class AAA and are replaced in the majors by the Toledo Mud Hens.

Baseball definitely needs more nicknames like Mud Hens.

NASCAR announced this week it will ban the Confederate flag from its events. That seems a rather considerable change right there, if decades overdue.

In place of the secessionist flag, NASCAR should introduce a special flag. When that flag is waved, drivers jump out of their cars and into golf carts or onto motorcycles for a few laps. Let's see how well-rounded these guys are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The NFL has been tweaking its rules for years. There is more it can do, especially to promote the hiring more minority head coaches and more women and minorities for front-office jobs.

Perhaps the best change of all would be merely figuring out just what is a catch and when it's appropriate for a player to take a knee.

Should the NCAA remain in the sports-for-profit business, or would everyone be better off in a European model of professional sports where education and athletics are separated? It's highly unlikely for football and basketball, but many colleges have spent the spring deciding which nonrevenue sports to eliminate even as coaches' salaries soar, pandemic salary cuts excepted.

The college sports landscape could be very different, but most likely it will just be a missed opportunity. Or maybe that's just fewer opportunities for young athletes.

It's something to think about.

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