When you first learn a sport, you have to be taught the rules. Over time, these rules become ingrained in your mind and conforming to them becomes second nature, but there are, in fact, many rules throughout sports which should be questioned, and even changed. Rule changes very rarely happen in sports because they are so historic and traditional, but there are some dumb rules which make the sport frustrating and less enjoyable both for players and the fans. Some of these strange rules give an unfair advantage, some slow the game down and others are just plain weird.

10. 30 Minutes of Extra Time – Soccer

In soccer matches where a winner must be determined, they will play two 15 minute periods of extra time, and if no winner is determined by this point, it will go to penalties. Players train and are used to playing for 90 minutes, so to play an extra third seems excessive, but also dangerous. The quality of football is particularly low in the second half of extra time, as the players are exhausted and often suffer from cramp or an injury, meaning the play becomes very sloppy and any goal in this period is, 90% of the time, from a mistake rather than skill. In addition, the extra half an hour is unfair for the fans, as many have long journeys ahead of them and these types of games are usually held in the evening. The rule should be changed to one 15 minute extra time session instead.

9. Designated Hitter – MLB (American League)

The designated hitter (DH) rule should be changed for a number of reasons. Firstly, pitchers not hitting takes away from the strategy of the game, and it provides great entertainment for the fans to see the pitcher face off against his counterpart. Secondly, the DH rule gives pitchers in the American League an advantage over those in the National League, as they get more rest by not having to step up to the plate or practice their batting. Finally, the DH rule creates different classes of players, which can divide the team as well as stop youths from practicing every area. Pitchers do not have to spend their time working on their swing with all the other players, whilst it also has created a generation of batting cage players who only work on one area of the entire game of baseball. It is a controversial rule that divides many baseball fans.

8. One Foot Down & Down Without Contact – NCAA football

The college game should adopt the same rules as the pros, as otherwise it teaches bad habits and makes it difficult for those who manage to make the jump to adjust. College football is the worst for this, with two rules that vary differently and make the game less enjoyable. In college, a player must only have one foot inbounds before catching a ball at the sidelines for it to be considered complete, whereas the NFL requires both feet to be inbounds. Aside from ingraining bad habits, college quarterback’s do not, therefore, have to be as accurate with their passing. Another dumb rule is the down without contact rule in college, where a player is down if they slip or if their knee hits the ground. The idea is to reduce unnecessary contact, but again it ingrains bad habits and does not prepare players for the pros, where a player is active until forced down or out of bounds.

7. Boxing Scoring

Boxing is a fantastic sport, and also one which has some of the world’s best athletes, but, unfortunately, the way in which it is scored is flawed, and this is damaging the reputation of the sport. Scoring is subjective, which means that there will always be arguments over scores and, of course, there have been countless fights that have ended somewhat controversially. What is particularly worrying about the way in which boxing is scored is the fact that it opens up accusations of match fixing and corruption, and this is easily believable and no doubt regularly occurs. The sport could be much improved by either forming an organization for judges, where they are then trained and scores are made public after each round, or the other alternative would be for bouts to continue until a knockout or forfeit (although this would be controversial and would change the sport too drastically).

6. Jump Ball – NBA

The advantages of jump ball, instead of possession arrow (more on this next), are that it encourages players to dive on the floor and hustle for the ball, and earning possession is an important thing for young players to learn. A jump ball is also more entertaining for the fans to watch, and particularly in late game situations where each team is desperate to win the ball. The down side to jump balls are that often the players that become tangled are a completely different height and have a different jumping ability, which means that one player has a huge advantage over the other, despite them both showing great hustle. Nobody wants to see a jump ball between Dwight Howard (7’0″) and Jeff Teague (6’2″). To offer a fair way of determining possession, the jump ball should be kept, but teams can nominate who jumps for the ball.

5. Possession Arrow – NCAA basketball

Whilst the current jump ball rule in the pro game may not be the best way of determining possession, it is better than the possession arrow that is used in college. The idea of the possession arrow is to speed up the game, which it does, but it does not enforce the idea of teams earning possession, and it can be particularly bad for both players and fans on key possessions near the end of the game. More often than not, a jump ball is forced due to an excellent defensive play. If a team were to make a key defensive play in the dying moments of the game, this hard work can instantly be negated by the possession arrow, and offer no opportunity for their hard work to be rewarded. Also, if the arrow is pointing against you, players are less likely to dive on the floor.

4. All-Star Game Winner Gets HFA – MLB

The decision to award home field advantage (HFA) for the World Series to the team in the league that won the All-Star game was a bizarre decision and offers little logic. The MLB All-Star game, like all All-Star games, is an exhibition match where the emphasis is on entertaining the crowd (the players voted in are usually not the most deserving). HFA in the World Series can have a huge impact on how the series plays out, and it should therefore be earned throughout the season. With the All-Star game winner getting HFA, a team can have a stunning season and get the best record, but because the other league won an exhibition match they will not get advantage. Teams with the best record get HFA throughout league playoffs, and it works in the NHL and NBA, so it seems strange to adopt a different system in the World Series.

3. Point For A Loss In Overtime – NHL

No matter what sport you are playing, losing should not be rewarded. Earning a point for a loss in overtime seems to go against everything that sports stand for, and over the course of the season these points (or even just one) could see teams earn important playoff seeds despite losing more games. Prior to the lockout teams could earn a point for drawing in overtime. After the lockout, the league introduced shootouts so that a winner had to be determined after overtime, but they decided to keep the rule of a earning a point for a loss in overtime. What makes this rule particularly odd is the fact that it makes games worth different amount of points, and this loses symmetry. Even if the teams cannot be separated at the end of regulation, awarding a point after eventually losing should not be rewarded and it can have important implications.

2. Intentional Walk – MLB

Although it is a lack of a rule, something must be done about the intentional walk. The intentional walk is perhaps the most frustrating and boring play in all of sport, and has been described as the “avoidance of baseball.” This is, of course, not what players practice for their entire lives, and it is not what the fans in the stands or sitting at home want to see or pay to see. The entire idea around sports is to see individuals or teams compete against each other with their intelligence and athleticism, and the intentional walk takes this away and replaces it with cowardly tactics. The battle between batter and pitcher is intriguing and key in baseball, and the crowd wants to see the best batters locked in a battle against top pitchers. Intentional walks see the best batters not demonstrate their talent and it must be stopped.

1. Overtime Coin Toss – NFL

Sport is not about luck, which means that coin tosses should not be used to determine anything that could have an impact on the result of a game. In regular season games, a coin toss is used to determine who gets possession first i overtime, and if they score a touchdown or safety on their first possession, then the game is over. This gives an enormous advantage to the winner of the toss, and seems a little unfair, after battling hard for an hour, to see a coin determine the winner. The ruling has been changed in the post-season, where the other team are allowed a possession if the coin toss winning team score a field goal with their first possession. This should extend to the regular season, but it could be improved by abandoning the prehistoric coin toss and giving possession to the team with the most yards in that game.