I love minor-league sports, but not as an investment. I’ve always thought that if you ever considered investing in minor-league sports, a better investment would be to go to the bank, take out all of your money, put it into a nice pile, and set it on fire. The money you salvage after the fire goes out will be more money than what you’d have left after your adventure in the minor leagues.
That being said, I’ve always wanted to try starting a minor league — in any sport, really. Not because I ache to waste massive amounts of money, but because I want to make up my own rules for the game. The ABA popularized the 3-point shot in the 1970s and its 21st-century namesake has the wonderful 3-D rule. It seemed that every new football league in the US had some weird idea as to what to do with the extra point. There were so many attempts at pro soccer in the 1970s and 1980s that had unbelievable rules to try and get Americans interested in soccer. New leagues usually mean new rules.
Luckily for me, past poor financial decisions have made this an impossibility for me. I’m never going to have enough money to just throw away on a minor league, which is probably a good thing. But I still have ideas. Ridiculous ideas — if your minor league isn’t full of ridiculous ideas you are doing something wrong. Minor-league baseball is well-known for wacky promotions between innings, but I don’t think that goes far enough. Even the 21st-century ABA’s 3D rule doesn’t go far enough.
Let’s face it: in the minors, especially the unaffiliated minors, the level of talent is going to be light-years behind the kind of talent people can stay home and watch on TV. You need a lot of sauce to cover up the taste of that meat.
Let’s make some sauce. I’m going to start with basketball because back in the day that was the sport I watched and understood the most.
We’re going to start with the NCAA rulebook, except we’ll just use whatever three-point line the venue already has on the floor (the furthest away one if they have more than one). No point in mucking around with tape on the floor if we have a decent venue that doesn’t have their three-point line in the “correct” space. And we’ll have six fouls to foul out, not five.
No free throws. Free throws are boring. Instead we’ll have power plays.
The fouling player has to stand off court just outside the baseline, between the sideline and the three-point line. The fouling team must play 4-on-5 defense until they get the ball back (via rebound, offensive foul, violation or turnover, or if the offense scores).
The fouled team can also choose to run 30 seconds off the clock and get the ball without a power play, which should put an end to fouling at the end of games to stop the clock.
If play is stopped during a power play, we don’t play five-on-three; instead, if the fouled team scores on the subsequent power play, the basket is worth one extra point. There’s no limit to how many extra points can be tacked on via defensive fouls.
Technical and flagrant fouls would count as two fouls towards fouling out but otherwise play out just like regular fouls would.
Thirty-second play clock, not a shot clock. If you take a shot, miss, and get the rebound, too bad: the clock doesn’t reset. You have 30 seconds to score a basket, period. I’m making things harder on the defense so let’s give them a break in other ways.
This makes power plays a little bit more reasonable. I can imagine teams with a lead taking lousy shots on power plays just to reset the shot clock and run more time off the game clock. This rule puts a stop to that.
Also, teams can take as much time as they want to advance the ball past midcourt and there is no backcourt rule. You have a 30-second play clock and that should be enough incentive to get the ball upcourt. I don’t think these rules are necessary anymore and I never liked them anyway.
Different scoring system. Shots inside the paint (except dunks) are one point. Dunks and shots inside the three-point line are two points. Outside the three-point line, three points. We’ll draw a line parallel to and directly under the backcourt; shots behind the basket are four points, except from the corners behind the three-point line; those are five points.
If the defense fouls a player attempting a shot that would have been worth more than two points, the subsequent power play basket (if there is one) will be worth that many more points (i.e, one extra point if it was a three, two if it was a four, and so on). Yes, this could lead to six-point layups. I’m fine with that. Low scores are boring.
Multiball! Yeah, no, although I love pinball I can’t think of a way to make this work and be fun both for the players and the fans. If you do, let me know.