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Football rules -
a tiny change that would crank up the excitement!

BIG BRAINSTORM (April 2002):

The problem is this: football is a 2-hour game where not much happens for the first 1:58 except two teams alternately kicking the ball away to the other side, saying, "After you, my dear Ambrose," and, "Tut, tut, after you, my dear Alphonse." Then, within the last few minutes of the game, one of teams notices that it's losing - and starts playing like a house on fire.

Does anyone remember the 2002 Super Bowl? I don't know who was playing, and I only saw the last two minutes, but that's when everything happened - as usual. The most bizarre thing was some tv announcer guy who, even though it was the last minute, thought the coach and quarterback needed to have their brains examined for actually trying to move the ball and win the game. Football's play-it-safe mentality runs deep.

Obviously, I'm not the only one who feels this way. There are new football leagues started up occasionally, if not regularly, with new rules devised to stir up continual action throughout the game. I'm guessing these leagues never survive because of a lack of talent, but also because the new rules are generally perceived as just plain goofy. My original proposal of eliminating kicking plays from football (further down) was meant to work against this surrender mentality, while providing football with a much more elegant philosophical foundation.

So here's THE proposal that will make football much more entertaining and exciting to watch from beginning to end - and without any rule changes to the game itself.

Each 15-minute Quarter is a separate competition with a winner and a loser (or a tie).

The teams play "best of 5" Quarters.

Whichever team wins 3 Quarters first wins the game.

Just imagine, in the closing minutes of every quarter, if not sooner, at least one of the teams will shift into a high-gear, do-or-die mode!

Regarding ties: I personally have never minded ties in any sports or gaming activities, and would leave a tie a tie in both the quarters and in the overall game. If the world has to have a tie-breaker, I wouldn't stand in the way.

If and when we go the route of best-of-five-quarters, I will completely withdraw my objections to kicking plays - with one exception: the point-after-touchdown. It's just too darn automatic. I propose replacing it with a single play-after-touchdown from the 10-yard line, where getting the ball into the end zone is still worth a single point.

Wouldn't that add some zest to the game! Can you imagine how the adrenalin would be flowing? Making or not making the extra point will often be the deciding factor in a quarter. There would be flea-flickers and triple reverses and laterals... galore!

The number of points scored and the scrimmage line for the "point-after" is up for discussion, of course, but I'd like to see it made very challenging as opposed to very easy. I would not want the point value and scrimmage line carefully weighed against each other (such as 2 points from the 4-yard line) so that the payoff per effort required is kept more or less in line with that for making touchdowns and field goals.

I'd like it viewed this way: "Look, you made it down the field using an allowance of 4 plays per 10 yards. Think you're good? Ok, now make 10 yards in one play for an extra point."

When we implement this, the question of who gets first possession in each quarter will come up. My suggestion: good, ol' British "mugs away". Translated into English that means whoever is losing at that point will get the ball first.

I hope nobody objects to this on the grounds that people a thousand years from now will be scratching their heads over how a football game came to be a match of five quarters.



In a nutshell my grand idea is to eliminate all kicking plays from the OFFICIAL FOOTBALL RULES. Did I say the OFFICIAL FOOTBALL RULES? Yes, I said the OFFICIAL FOOTBALL RULES. (Sorry, just trying to draw some web traffic.)

The dumb thing about punts is that they make surrender a major part of the game. Doesn't it seem funny, one of the most masculine of sports, where the two teams take turns surrendering to each other? Wouldn't it be more entertaining to watch a team have to go for those 8 yards?

Same problem with field goals, a kind of partial surrender. Those 2 yards needed for a 1st down seem so long, so daunting - so terrifying - don't they? All right, you can kick the ball for a few consolation points. Field goals, like punts, dilute the fundamental essence of the game, which is moving the ball to the goal line via passing and running.

Kickoffs are simply unnecessary - and dangerous, to boot. Why not just give a team the ball at the 50-yard line at the beginning of each half? Maybe pro players are tough enough, but it's surely not a good idea for normal people to go charging into each other head-on at full throttle.

Another objection that comes to mind regarding the kicking plays is that for each one, a whole batch of separate rules (not to mention players) is hauled out. Very unsatisfying from a philosophic point of view. Still, I can appreciate the difference between football as an entertainment spectacular and football as a sensible sport.

When they implement the above proposal, we are faced with another problem - what to call the game? I could use some help here; the best I can come up with is "handball". Or maybe "socker", and we could rename soccer football.

Football has another oddity in that it has well-defined plays, but also has a time limit. My suggestion is that continual possession of the football by one team be viewed like a "side" (1/2 inning) in baseball. The side is not halted by the clock. When the clock runs out at the half or the end (there's no need for quarters - that is, unless "best of 5" quarters is implemented!) the side continues until the team is either stopped or scores.

That's all for now.


Addendum (Sep 2001): Oops, that's not all. I guess I have to eat at least a little crow. What happened was the 2000-2001 NFL season, in which the Baltimore Ravens (my hometown team) annihilated opponents and went on to win the Super Bowl without any offense - no running game and no passing game. Everything turned on kicking. I only know of one analogy in the history of sports where somebody came along with a completely new, different and unthought of way of dismantling the competition and setting records - the Fosbury Flop in the high jump. Still, as fun as it was for me to root for a Super Bowl winner, the newspapers reported that football fans found that Super Bowl and its record number of punts boring. So what's that tell you about my main argument here?


Date: Sep 2 1998
From: Jeff Boxerman

You have either never played the game or suffered a severe head injury in doing so.

Date: Feb 5 1999
Subject: your football modificatons

i think u need to leave football alone. you probably dont even play football. [Occasionally with neighborhood kids in the front yard. Passing plays only. DS] you just thought youd try to be cool and make up some stupid stuff about football. i play football and it is a mans sport. kickoffs and punts make up the game and are essential. just keep making up stupid stuff, nobody cares.

Date: Feb 1 2000 08:48:07
From: Lee Huber
Subject: Football

I have to agree with the other comment on the page. This has to be one of the dumbest things I've heard anybody say in a long time, maybe ever. Your right about needing another name for it because if you made the changes your talking about then it would no longer be football and football players play football not most "normal" people. So far after thousands of kickoffs very few players have been injured due to running at full speed and hitting someone else. I'm sure it would kill you but then again your not a football player or a normal person are you?

Date: Feb 1 2000 08:54:01
From: Lee Huber
Subject: Football

Oh and here's a quote I found I thought you might like.

Any idiot can find something wrong with anything. That's what makes them idiots!

Date: Oct 10 2000
From: Mark Penner
Subject: football page

your football suggestions are pure crap   punting and
kicking have nothing to do with surrendering   they are
plays designed to make it harder for the other team to
score   you should check yourself out you might be
slightly retarded


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