Sports rules

Not like “sports rules!”, but the rules of sport. My beloved Boilermakers went down to Bloomington and beat the Hoosiers on Thursday night. It was a joy to behold, with the exception of one weird call toward the end of the game. It’s been called a “blarge“. IU’s Thomas Bryant lowered his shoulder and barreled into Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan. One referee called a blocking foul on Swanigan, another called a charge against Bryant (it was a charge). As a result, the call was a double foul.

This turns out to be the correct way to handle it. It’s also really terrible. Those two calls are mutually-exclusive. Especially in this circumstance, because it caused each team’s best player to foul out in the final minutes of a close rivalry game.

But it got me thinking about how and why the rules of sports get changed. Major League Baseball is apparently considering a rule change to speed up extra innings. I hope that goes nowhere. In my mind, it’s a fundamental change to how the game is played. Ostensibly, it’s to shorten games. MLB has made several changes over the past few years to try to speed the game up.

But here’s the thing: I like baseball¬†because it’s a slow game. Baseball is a deliberate game that invites conversation and statistical analysis in-game. I don’t mind rule changes, but they should be to improve the game. Speed isn’t automatically an improvement. It can even be a detriment.

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