Ways to make the games harder for the top athletes


Golf is hard enough to play under the best conditions. But golfers in the U.S. Open play in conditions that are so difficult they are scary. Hard, fast greens and difficult rough are a given. No tournament in golf sets up a course with so little margin for error.

Golf fans are a little masochistic. Admit it—who doesn’t enjoy watching the world’s best players struggle like a weekend hack?

This year’s winner, Graeme McDowell, won with a final-round score of 3-over-par 74, the highest final round for the U.S. Open in 25 years.

It was entertaining, but it didn’t necessarily make for great golf.

The best athletes in the world often make their sport look easy. But I’ll bet we could come up with some changes that would challenge the best of them.

I’m not suggesting that all of the following ideas would improve that particular sport, but you’ll have to admit, it would be interesting and possibly even entertaining.

• Basketball

What if you raised the basketball goal to 11 feet at one end of the court and 12 feet on the other end?

What if you curved the sidelines so players had to adjust to a court that is wider and narrower in spots?

What if you used a basketball that was over-inflated and bounced hard off the rim or backboard?

What if players had to shoot free throws blindfolded?

What if officials had to referee blindfolded? Would anyone notice?

• Football

What if you played football on grass at least 12 inches tall?

What if you played football on dirt and soaked it before each half like they do at a demolition derby?

What if all offensive players were allowed to be in motion before the snap?

What if defensive backs had to play with one hand tied behind their backs?

What if players had to go both ways on offense and defense for one quarter?

• Baseball

What if there were only three balls for a walk and two strikes for a strikeout?

What if you only allowed 15 seconds between pitches—otherwise there’s an automatic ball or strike, depending on whether the pitcher or batter is slowing things down?

What if you spread numerous rocks around the infield and added sizeable mounds of dirt in the outfield to make it more challenging for the defense?

What if one umpire called the entire game alone?

What if you played one inning with coach-pitch rules, where a team has its own pitcher throw to his batters?

What if you played one inning like T-ball?

• Golf

What if you allowed the gallery to cheer, boo and yell anytime they felt like it, including when golfers prepare to hit the ball?

What if a miniature golf hole was used to break ties at the end of a tournament?

What if golfers had only 15 seconds to shoot their next shot from the time they reach their ball without suffering a one-stroke penalty?

What if all bunkers were filled with water instead of sand?

• Soccer

What if the game were played without offsides being called?

What if the game were played without a clock and the first team that scored, won?

• Volleyball

What if the game were played with an unlimited number of touches during each point?

What if the net were raised one foot for one game and lowered two feet the next game?

• Hockey

What if the game were played on slushy ice?

What if the goal were three feet wider and higher?

• Umpires/officials

What if all officials wore glasses whether they needed them or not?

What if umpires called baseball games from the upper deck, because, after all, fans seem to see everything just fine?

What if the four umpires at a Major League Baseball game raced around the bases after the fifth inning to see who was fastest? Before the race, one lucky fan would have a chance to pick the winner. If right, he or she gets to finish the game as the home-plate ump.

What if in international competition you made sure officials could not speak the language of the competing teams?


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