Here are the questions I would love to answer, if I could get anybody to ask them:
Q: A couple of weeks ago, you did a blog on the requirements of FIFA and the Olympic Committee in determining which city or nation hosts the World Cup or the Olympics. Doesn’t the NFL ask similar things when selecting hosts for the Super Bowl?
A: Yes, it does, and now we know exactly what the NFL requests, thanks to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which got its hands on the 153-page document issued to host city candidates. Minneapolis will host Super Bowl LII in 2018 in its new domed and heavily glassed downtown stadium. The document indicates the NFL demands a great many things, including 35,000 parking spots at the stadium, and it has complete control over seating. It also receives all ticket revenues, and demands that the stadium house only ATMs operated by league-sponsoring banking companies. All other ATMS have to be covered up.
But my particular favorite demand is that the sponsoring city must provide two different top-flight bowling facilities for sponsorship events. It also demands the use of two top-level golf courses, but that is difficult to provide in February in Minneapolis, so the demand sheet says those courses must be made available at a designated time in summer months.
The biggest complaint that came out of the early 2000s renovation of Soldier Field in Chicago is that it did not allow the stadium to have 70,000 seats, which is the minimum required to host a Super Bowl. Of course, we now know the NFL demands that any city must have an average temperature of 55 degrees on game day or have a domed stadium, which Chicago also doesn’t have (either temperature or dome).
Q: The NBA is experimenting with a 44-minute game during its preseason to see how that will affect the overall time of the game, which has become a matter of concern in recent years. What do you think of that plan?
A: I think the NBA is attacking the wrong element of the game.
Forty-eight minutes of playing time in 12-minute quarters is fine. The National Football League game is 60 minutes long, although a huge portion of that 60 minutes is spent in preparing for each play, as the clock runs while teams huddle on many plays, and it continues to run while teams wait for the snap of the ball. The National Hockey League plays 60 minutes continuously. Major League Baseball doesn’t count. Soccer games are 90 minutes plus and that is all running, so 48 minutes is not too much.
What the NBA needs to do is limit players to four fouls per game, and limit coaches to three timeouts a half, including TV timeouts. The problem that exists is the final six minutes of every close or meaningful game, when players on the losing team foul to put players to the foul line, and coaches call timeout after timeout to set up plays because they have about a zillion timeouts available to them, in either long form or short (20-second) form.
One of the more brilliant coaching moves I saw by former Bulls coach Phil Jackson was his decision to let his players play through tough stretches of a game rather than call timeout, so that if timeouts were limited, they could handle situations without his input. Honestly, the ends of games are the problem, whether the game lasts 44 minutes or 48 minutes.
Q: Kansas City Royals, yes or no?
First, I love when teams in small markets succeed, especially in baseball. I love when teams make it to the playoffs in any sport after long droughts, and the Royals had gone 29 years without a playoff appearance. I also love when teams play small ball, because it makes greater demands on the defense and keeps the game from being just a contest between the pitcher and the batter. The Royals are playing baseball the old-fashioned way, and that’s fine with me.
As I write this, the San Francisco Giants are leading the National League Championship series three games to one over the St. Louis Cardinals, which means it is likely we will not have a repeat of the I-70 series from Kansas City’s last appearance in 1985. That series was marred by a famous missed call at first base that allowed the Royals to force a Game Seven, which they won. Of course, since that series, the Cardinals have been in the World Series five times and won it twice, so I don’t feel too sorry for the St. Louis baseball crowd.
After all, I live in Chicago, where since 1939 we have had one champion – the 2005 White Sox – and three World Series appearances by our two teams.
So even the Kansas City Royals haven’t had it so bad.
Please keep those questions coming in.