11 things — some big, some small — we’d change

Published 8:32 a.m. ET March 5, 2019 | Updated 8:41 a.m. ET March 9, 2019

Nearly 15 years ago, in the summer of 2004, a group of reporters and editors at USA TODAY Sports sought to evaluate the changes they’d like to see in sports.

Some of those ideas were simple — minor rule changes in particular sports, such as eliminating the possession arrow in college basketball. Others were broad and sweeping: Shorter professional seasons, for instance. More drug testing. Cheaper ticket prices.

A few of our ideas have come to fruition — rest in peace, BCS — but most remain unchanged.

So we thought it was as good a time as any to re-examine the idea, and come up with a new list of our own.

As of March 4, we’re unveiling the 11 things we’d like to change in sports, as voted upon by the USA TODAY Sports staff — reforms that we believe would have a positive impact on the world of sports. Every day, we’ll explore a new idea, how it would work and why it makes sense. The list to date is below.

As we go through our list, we also want to hear what we missed. Are there other changes you’d like to see in the world of sports? Share your ideas with us on Facebook or Twitter, or contact reporter Tom Schad at 

1. Ban tackle football for children under 14

“The kids don’t lose anything in this situation,” Chris Nowinski, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, told USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview. “There’s no safety issue that’s known. There’s no football development issue that’s known — no child’s being recruited off their fifth-grade film. So you end up with healthier children, still playing football — just for fewer seasons of tackle.”

Read the full story here.

2. Seed playoff teams by record, regardless of conference

A change to seeding-by-record — without regard to teams’ conference or league —would also allow for teams in the same conference to meet for a title. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox could meet in the World Series. The Dallas Cowboys could play the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl, and the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins could battle for the Stanley Cup.

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Read the full story here.

3. Adopt a split-season MLB schedule 

“I know people roll eyes at it,” Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz says, “but it works in the minor leagues. Teams can now compete in the second half instead of just dumping everybody. How are you going to tell your fan base that you’re not going to try in the second half? Who says you can’t have a nice second half? You could see teams reconstructed and change philosophically.”

Read the full story here.

4. Implement a shot clock in golf

Put a shot clock on the screen of every televised golf tournament. I’d go with 30 seconds, but I’d settle for 40 seconds. Time starts when the player arrives at his or her ball. Each golfer would have a shot clock of their own in their bag so they would be aware of how much time they have. Can you imagine? Phil Mickelson is trying to decide which wedge to use, and all of a sudden, the clock is ticking down: 5…4…3…

Read the full story here.

5. Eliminate all-star games, and expand skills competitions

Television ratings for all-star games are down across sports, and the apathy among players is pervasive. So why bother? Why not craft and publicize all-star rosters, and still host an all-star weekend, but with expanded skills competitions as the main attraction?

Read the full story here.

6. Expand the size of the NBA court

Basketball players at all levels – and especially the NBA – have gotten bigger, stronger and faster, taking up more space on the court and covering ground quicker than ever. Why not make the court bigger in the NBA? While it doesn’t seem like a huge difference, extending the court width-wise would create more space and improve the flow of the game.

Read the full story here

Coming Sunday: It’s time to create a rotation for Olympic host cities


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