Mark Clark: Some of the dumbest rules in sports

Mark Clark: Some of the dumbest rules in sports

Well, since the biggest thing in the sports world is tonight – the NFL draft – there is not a lot to write about. Perhaps that will not last much longer. It appears the government – both State and Federal – are beginning to discuss relaxing its rules about quarantine. Boy, will I ever be happy when these rules are relaxed. Let us hope we never have to deal with a pandemic like coronavirus again in our lifetimes.

So while we sit around longer wondering what will happen, I want to point out some of the dumbest rules in sports. Maybe the powers that be can take some time to discuss them while we wait for our world to transition back to something similar to how it was before all this crud began.

First, a rule that is dear to my heart. I call it the George Brett Rule – excessive pine tar on bats. Can someone at the Major League Baseball Office please explain to me why this is even a rule? And I mean besides “because it has always been that way.” Some guy back in the 1800s thought pine tar was some sort of competitive edge. How? It allows a batter to grip the bat a little better, but it does not assist in hitting the ball better. I guess the rule is in place to keep baseball from getting dirty.

How about this one for sheer dumbness? You just finished the best four days of golf in your life and won a big tournament. You hurry to the locker room to freshen up a bit before stepping before the media for interviews. But, you forgot one little thing – to sign your scorecard. Now, you are not the winner. You are not the winner because you did not turn in an autographed card showing your score on each hole – as if your opponents, fans and officials are not also keeping up with the total. Aren’t there enough rules in golf to remember that make this one a bit obsolete?

Here is another baseball rule I absolutely hate – the intentional walk. It is the worst waste of time during an already slow sport. A catcher stands up and holds his arm out to the side to get the pitcher to throw the ball away from the batter until he throws four balls. The only time I have ever seen a catcher do this that I appreciated was when Gene Tenace of the Oakland A’s stood and held his glove out to the side when the count was 3-2 on Cincinnati’s Johnny Bench in the World Series. Instead of really calling for ball four, Tenace dropped back down behind the plate and the pitcher threw a strike to a shocked Bench. The object of baseball is to get people out. It make no sense to give a player a free base.

Here is a hockey rule that is dumb. When two teams play to an overtime period – or shoot out – the losing team gets a point. Now, I understand no one likes a tie and Alabama fans can remember one that cost the Crimson Tide a National Championship in football. But, if you are going to play an overtime of any kind, you are trying to determine a winner. The winner should be rewarded. The loser should not. That overtime point for a loss could determine which team makes it to the playoffs when two teams have the same number of losses.

College basketball has some dumb rules as well. Here’s one I detest. With 35 seconds to decide when a team wants to shoot the basketball – and at times using that time to eat away the clock when they are in the lead, it makes no sense to have the five-second defensive call. Use one or the other, but not both. It makes no sense. Come on NCAA.

Is it not about time for all sports to do away with the fashion police? Who cares if a player’s jersey has slipped out of his waistband? Who cares if a player’s socks do not match? Is it really disrespectful to the game? I don’t think so. 

Want to send in the fashion police? Send them into baseball and stop managers from wearing the same uniforms as the players. Most managers are old and out of shape, so why make them sit around wearing polyester uniforms that no one will see more than a couple of times during a game?

Here’s the last one I will point out in this column – the offsides in soccer and hockey. People already complain about how low-scoring the games are, so why not do away with this rule and promote more scoring? When the ball or puck goes past the offsides line and is chased by one or more guys who were playing defense, you will no doubt see just how good of a goalie you have. Let the teams score points. It will make the fans much happier.

There are a lot more rules in sports that are just plain dumb, but as the officials say, “They have always been there. Why change them now?” The reason you change is to make the game better and less confusing. The pass interference rule is confusing and subjective. Ask two or 10 football officials to define what is pass interference and you will not get two matching answers.

Well, that is enough for this week. Maybe we can discuss more dumb rules later.


Mark Clark is a local sports writer for The Citizen of East Alabama.