10 Instant Fixes to Broken Sports Events

Nick DimengoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2016

FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2015, file photo, New England Patriots' Rob Gronkowski poses for a selfie with television host and sportscaster Charissa Thompson during media day for NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game in Phoenix. Men are behind more news stories than women by a nearly 2-to-1 margin across print and television platforms, though there was a slight increase in bylines and credits for women last year, a new study says. The Washington-based Women's Media Center released its study Thursday, June 4, 2015,  as part of its fourth annual report on
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

With the NBA and NHL All-Star Weekend and the NFL Pro Bowl just passing, it got me thinking what leagues might be able to do to fix these sporting events to make them just a little more entertaining for both fans and players.

While we all, reluctantly, turn these events on because, well, sports, that doesn't mean we're left happy with the final product, as they lack intrigue and competitiveness.

So what can leagues consider doing to spice them up? I've got a few ideas.

 

10. How To: Fix The Olympics

Matt Slocum/Associated Press

I understand that there's a lot of history—as in, 120 years' worth—but can't the Summer and Winter Olympics step their game up and give fans what they want more often?

Yep, if I'm not being blatant enough, I'm talking about the Olympics going from every four years to every two, allowing fans a better opportunity to not only fall in love with some of the best athletes on the planet more regularly, but also giving those athletes a better chance at participating for longer.

We all remember how U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas stole the Summer Games in 2012 when she won multiple gold medals at the ripe old age of 16, but entering the 2016 Rio Games, Douglas will be a 20-year-old whom everyone has sort of just forgotten about because she hasn't been around in four years.

This suggestion probably won't happen, but it should.

 

9. Why: The NFL Needs To Fix Media Day

After seeing the NFL actually make the NFL media day a prime-time event because it loves to make money anytime it can in exploiting its teams and players—but that's a different story—there's no way in hell that the league will consider getting rid of the event.

Since that's not going to happen, what can the league do to at least make this somewhat enjoyable?

First, how about weeding out the real reporters from the fake ones? Yep, you read that right, and, nope, I'm not smoking something illegal by saying that. Wouldn't it be more fun if athletes get a slew of questions that are so off-beat that fans have to see their favorite players answer them uncomfortably?

While there seem to be some bogus questions from "real" reporters every season, few serious journalists are dressing up in a wedding dress and asking Tom Brady to marry them—as Ines Gomez Mont did before Super Bowl XLII.

Make this more fun and more fans might actually tune in as if it were a late-night comedy show, NFL.

 

8. How To: Make The MLB's Regular Season Better

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The easy answer here would be to say to shorten the regular season, right? I mean, fans and players often gripe about the grind of a 162-game season. But that's not actually what I think would make the MLB regular season better.

What I would suggest is to play a more balanced schedule across the entire majors, making every game from April to September meaningful, while also allowing fans to see stars from the opposite league whom they otherwise wouldn't get to see.

For instance, rather than the current scheduling format, let's explore this example for a second and take one team from the AL Central, the Cleveland Indians, and have them play each team in every other division in the American League in one three-game series each and a two-game series against each National League team, which would total 60 of their 162 games.

That leaves them with 102 games left against division rivals—which breaks down to about 25 with each AL Central team. While that's less than what the current format has, where the Indians would play a division rival in 75 of their total games, it stresses the importance of winning games within the division early and often.

The MLB is the one league that has shown to be progressive thanks to the second wild-card team for the playoffs and the updated Home Run Derby format from last year, so why not just keep it going with this suggestion?

 

7. How To: Make League Drafts More Appealing (And Help Stop Tanking)

Kathy Willens/Associated Press

I don't know why I've always thought this—because, to be honest, it's not too realistic—but I've always wondered why pro sports leagues won't just set a hard salary cap for the league and then reward the best teams with the higher picks in each draft.

Hey, I said it's not too realistic, remember?

But, hear me out.

Take the Denver Broncos, for instance, who are coming off a Super Bowl victory and have a bunch of players they need to try to sign to new deals. Wouldn't it be more interesting for fans to actually care what they'll do if the team now has to worry about how to pay the top overall pick in the draft, too? Or wouldn't it create more trade activity because some teams would covet a future superstar and trade up from a lower round pick?

And just think about how this would finally eliminate tanking and make regular-season games more competitive, as teams in all leagues would have to fight until the finish for a chance to avoid slipping down their league draft.

It won't happen because people are too afraid to imagine a successful franchise getting even more talent, but it would be interesting—and fun—to see if this ever went down to reward those for a job well done.

 

6. Why: The NBA Needs To Fix The Slam Dunk Contest

It's hard to sit here and say that the NBA needs to do much to fix the Slam Dunk Contest following the epic show that Aaron Gordon and Zach LaVine just put on last weekend, but there are still some things that the league could consider doing.

Why not increase the number of participants from four to six, allowing the fans to vote on the top two dunkers to get byes as the other four square off in a round-robin, two-dunk format that compiles points, while also giving fans a chance to see six dunks from each competitor that round?

Once points are totaled up, the best dunkers would get a chance to showcase what they have in the Final Four, which would more than certainly include the league's most creative dunkers.

Lastly, the league has played around with props and such before, but the Slam Dunk Contest should require at least one dunk in which a participant has to use a prop, be it a teammate, extra basketball or, as Gordon showed, a mascot.

The contest is a chance for players to show their dunk skills, but it should also bring a backyard feel to it, too, with dunkers upping the ante by finding things that otherwise wouldn't be on a basketball court to dunk with.

 

5. How To: Make Boxing Great Again

Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

The toughest fix of all these sporting events, unfortunately, the sport of boxing is no longer the prize it once was, as more mainstream sports have taken its place, and UFC is becoming all the rage.

Still, the quick solution to fixing the sport is, surprise, a playoff format.

Sports fans in America love a good tournament, with upsets almost always bound to happen and the intensity and pressure at the highest level. So why not create something for fans to follow for a couple of weeks, bringing in tons of money through sponsors and TV deals as well as getting the sport's biggest stars on to millions of TVs?

Tournaments have been used in the past in the sport, and it's time to make it the main event each time a big star steps into the ring.

 

4. How To: Make The College Football Playoff Even Better

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

While a lot of these other suggestions have been a little more complex, I'm going to keep this one nice and simple—change the format of the College Football Playoff from the top four teams to the top eight, NCAA.

With so many good teams worthy of competing for a national championship each and every season, the NCAA needs to put the best squads on the field in order to try to win it, and the top eight seems like the logical move.

Now, there may not have been a college team on the planet that could have denied the Alabama Crimson Tide from winning this past season's title, but it would have been cool to find out, don't you think?

The simple answer here is to take the winners of the traditional big four games—Rose, Sugar, Fiesta and Orange Bowls—and have them then face off in a Final Four, meaning 2016 would have then had teams such as Ohio State, Notre Dame and Stanford in the hunt to topple the Tide.

Every college football fan wants to see this happen, so let's just have it happen already.

 

3. How To: Get More Fans To Watch The NHL All-Star Weekend

After the NHL decided to change up the All-Star Game and install a three-on-three format, most people were open to the change, as it immediately drew fans to read about the switch. But did it actually translate to more ratings? Of course, it did!

Thanks to the John Scott scenario and the new format, NBC Sports reported record ratings, per Yahoo Sports, meaning the NHL may have figured it out.

The NHL is the least popular of the four major American sports leagues, so to keep fans coming back next season will be a challenge. So how can the NHL do it?

Without a story like Scott's each year to help carry it, the NHL needs to make sure that the momentum for the game continues into the future, which is why the league should allow minor league or European players on to the ballot for fans to vote for.

That might be contradictory since those players don't actually play in the NHL, but it creates buzz for fans to see an underdog play alongside the best in the world, which may just keep viewership high.

 

2. How To: Fix The NBA All-Star Game

My goodness, with a record total of 369 points scored in this year's version of the NBA All-Star Game, it was clear that defense was less than optional. For that reason, why should anyone care about this game at all, right?

Well, besides the superstars playing in it, it's a spectacle during the slowest news month of the year, coming the weekend after the Super Bowl's played. That's the short answer.

So how can the league beef this up? How about installing a 25- or 50-point basket above the regular, 10-foot hoop for players to shoot at like the old MTV Rock N' Jock series used to have? Wouldn't it be awesome seeing Steph Curry shoot from half-court?

The game already doesn't mean much to the players, so putting something like this in it could be fun.

While some may argue it's more important to make this game meaningful for the players like the MLB has by awarding a conference something like home-court in the playoffs, the NBA regular season is already diluted, so why make best records mean less?

The next best thing is a 25-point shot or decals on the floor that award bonus points or something like that for fans to enjoy.

 

1. How To: Fix The NFL's Pro Bowl

Of all the events on this list, the NFL's Pro Bowl might be the toughest to try to fix because it's so obsolete, and players actually don't give two damns about it.

But because I'm here to try to offer a solution to make it more compelling, how about this: Forget the fantasy draft thing the league implemented a few years ago and make players participate in a combine-like trial, making it a All-Star Skills Competition like the NBA has as well as taking the results and then drafting players to teams.

For instance, wouldn't it be cool to see Adrian Peterson take on Todd Gurley in the 40-yard dash, with the winner then set to make the next pick for his specific team and so on? Fans would get to see their favorite players have some fun while also playing a backyard-style selection process.

Oh, and one other thing—move it to Las Vegas. It should always be played in Las Vegas!