In Brisbane over the Australia Day long weekend I found myself in a most unusual setting. I was sitting in 25 degree heat with pouring rain (= very high humidity) in an outdoor bar in the middle of a mall in the middle of the CBD, with a good mate, watching a few bouts of Ultimate Fighting Challenge* on the big screen while sipping an exclusive English IPA** while waiting to attend a vertical tasting of every Stone Brewing Vertical Epic ale from 02/02/02 to 12/12/12. At 10.30 in the morning.
It was one of those moments in life that come along all too infrequently in which one appears to leave one’s body and float above the scene thinking; “Geez, how good’s THIS?!” The joy of sharing a nice beer with a good mate leads to thoughts of whimsy. Two other large-screen TVs were showing a soccer match and some tennis which prompted one of those conversations which begin; “You know what they should do…?” and led into a cunning plan to address some basic flaws in some of the world’s most popular, but gosh-darned boring games.
We began with the obvious – soccer – which has the potential to be a fairly entertaining game but manages to stifle all creativity and entertainment bar th
e odd scissor kick. It was decided that the offside rule is the most misunderstood, misconstrued and mind-boggling grey-area in the game. It is also at its traditional core so it stays in but with the following caveat; if a defender kicks the ball backwards to a teammate the offside rule is OUT for sixty seconds. Game on!
Second, what is it, seriously, with all the falling-down-like-you’ve-been-shot business when a bloke gets within a metre of an opponent’s leg? That’s OUT. From now on, you go DOWN – you go OFF. On a stretcher in the medicab for the rest of the game as it is clearly a serious injury and must be treated thusly. In addition, for being such a pussy, rather than being replaced, your opponent will receive an extra man. GAME ON!!
Next; Tennis. Again, a game with much potential but punctuated by extending periods of “Hurry the F%@K UP and stop being so boring!!” as I see, as a casual observer, tennis was designed as a fun game to play but not to watch. This situation is remedied simply by instituting the following rules;
ACES. If a player hits an ace he/she should be rewarded by being allowed to serve again as quick as they like. No waiting for the opponent to question a line-call or demand a fluffy towel – next-serve-BANG!
TOWELS. Stop being sooky la-las and making ball boys and girls fetch your smelly sweaty towel between every single point. You want a towel? You go get a towel. They are clearly labelled ‘BALL boys/girls’ not ‘do-my-every-bidding-like-a-little-bitch boys/girls, are they? If this rule is breached by any player the following sub-rule will be activated;
‘…a player, upon enslaving a hard working volunteer minor into menial tasks of sanitation shall be penalised by The Ball Boy/Girl Clause. Ball persons shall, for the remainder of that game, be allowed to piff the balls as hard as they can at the offending player, rather than rolling or bouncing balls to him/her. (Balls can be thrown at any time during any point, not just as requested by the player and even if the player is not watching).
GRUNTING. This is NOT ON. You don’t grunt when you practice and you don’t need to grunt when you play. It is cheating and everybody knows it. It is designed to put an opponent off and in future will be penalised by application of Rule 86 Subclause iii which allows for everybody to make noise. Shouting, singing, heckling, ‘Ya Mum’ jibes, questioning your heritage/sexuality – it’s all on for the remainder of that point.
Finally, golf. I give up. There’s not much you can do to make golf an interesting spectator sport. Get out and play the game but keep it off TV. Unless you want to spice it up with the implementation of a few ‘Joker Cards’ where players themselves can enforce forfeits and challenges to opponents, which I’m fine with. Pants-down Tee Off. Get-really-dizzy-running-in-circles-then-putt. Stand on the fairway and catch my drive. That sort of thing.
So, next time you find yourself with a beer in hand, a vivid imagination and way too much time on your hands, see if you can come up with the few simple measures to make a good game great.
Author’s note: Before you hit the ‘comment’ button, read on. While I have been rather tongue-in-cheek and, yes, a little cheeky, with my descriptions and dissections of some of the world’s most popular and loyally followed games I want all readers to know that I really have nothing against soccer, tennis or golf as such.
I just prefer to watch sports.
*UFC is not a ‘sport’ with which I am intimately familiar but appears to be two blokes in a cage punching and kicking seven different types of poo out of each other while the crowd bays for even more blood than the two blokes could ever possibly contain. We used to do this behind the shelter sheds before school until a teacher came and broke it up.
**The English IPA is Spitfire brewed exclusively for a traditional English Pub concern by a very talented local Queensland brewery. We had one pot each while everyone around us seemed to have no trouble at all downing multiple pints of a popular international mega-lager. To be fair, by this time it was closer to 11am.