Opinion: Shorter Games Growing Trend in Pro Leagues

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Charleston Gazette-Mail


We are in such a rush these days, no one has time to sit for anything start to finish.

(In all likelihood, I lost half my readers midway through that opening sentence, bored senseless by the time they got to the comma.)

Eventually, preachers' long Sunday sermons could be reduced to a slide show. "60 Minutes will morph into "60 Seconds. Even gentlemen's clubs might add a drive-thru window for gentlemen seeking a lap dance on the go.

Which brings us to sports - the backbone of an America that once was great - and the barons of sports, who finally have decided that their sporting spectacles are too lengthy for our modern-day sporting tastes.

MLB wants to shorten games.

The NBA wants to shorten games.

The NFL wants to shorten games.

The only major U.S. professional sports league not talking about shortening games? The NHL. Actually, I'm surprised those folks haven't added a third intermission.

(To be fair, I should include MLS among major U.S. professional sports leagues, and to its credit, MLS doesn't need to shorten its games - we're talking a 45-minute running clock each half. However, if they were looking to shorten games, I might suggest they simply end whenever somebody scores a goal.)

Anyhow, at this point most of us - particularly multitasking millennials - have the attention span of a tsetse fly.

If my step kids Isaiah and Mia had happened to have front-row seats for the creation of the world - let's say when the good stuff was percolating, like Day 3 or 6 - they'd still have their heads buried in their smartphones, watching a YouTube video of a parrot singing "Sweet Caroline under a shower spigot.

Our captains of sports industry are trying keep the Isaiahs and the Mias engaged. Here is their plight:

MLB. The average nine-inning game last season took three hours; Game 5 of the Nationals-Dodgers NLDS lasted 4 hours 32 minutes. There is a general consensus that nothing in sports should take 4 hours 32 minutes, with the possible exception of any Rex Ryan press conference after he's lost a game or been fired.

Thus, commissioner Rob Manfred says MLB is looking at "pace-of-play issues. Similarly, pace of play was an issue during the Hundred Years' War, which dragged on for 116 years.

There is talk of limiting mound visits, which often are useless - as I recall in "Bull Durham, they discussed a wedding gift for Jimmy and Millie during one mound confab. There is talk of a pitch clock, but if you put a timepiece on the field - particularly a seven-foot Ridgeway grandfather clock - it might interfere with fielders' ability to handle ground balls or fly balls.

However, there is one bit of good news - the no-pitch intentional walk, coming soon to a ballpark near you!!!

NBA. Remember how you could bank unused minutes on monthly cell plans in the old days? It appears to me that NBA coaches bank unused timeouts for future games - I swear I saw Stan Van Gundy call 13 timeouts in the final six minutes of a recent Pistons-Celtics contest.

As for crowd disturbances that sometimes delay games, if the league extended James Dolan's Madison Square Garden ban of Charles Oakley to all arenas, that might help.

In addition, bowing to millennials' microwave mentality, the NBA might allow TV viewers to purchase just the final few minutes of games. Hollywood should consider this - I gladly would've paid a reduced price to see, say, just the final 2.

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March 6, 2017


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