Imagine this: It’s playoff season. A group of guys huddled around a corner booth in your favorite local sports dive. Brews and wings cover the table in front of them. Each one dons their favorite team’s apparel. They cheer and jeer the outcome of each play showing on the big screen hanging just a few feet away. All at once a loud mixture of emphatic reactions.
It’s the 4th quarter, 1:36 left on the clock. 3rd and 4 from the 36, down by 1 at home. Quick slant over the middle from the slot. A low strike from the QB as the receiver goes to the turf to make the grab.
“He caught it, First Down!” One man yells. ” He didn’t maintain possession, the ball was moving!” Shouts his friend. The conversation goes back and forth as the officials take it under review. Sound familiar? Ever been that group of guys having that very discussion?
Usually plays such as those generate massive cries for change or clarification. Normally in the off-season such changes are addressed and ruled upon. This has been the modus-operandi for professional football, as well as college, for the duration of their existence. Rule changes in season? Preposterous! Or is it?
USFL Changing the Game. Literally.
The USFL has taken input from fans, players and coaches, adding change to a fledgling rulebook as the season moves along. This type of progressive thinking is a breath of fresh air. In what has been a closed minded purists sport at times, seeing different types of scoring plays is a bit of culture shock.
After the insanely inaccurate start to the season for special teams, Week 3 saw kicking specialists begin using standard balls for field goal tries and point after attempts. Apparently the micro chip inside the balls was causing them to fly awkwardly. Usually accurate kickers were missing more FGs than they were making. Complaints were filed. Change was made.
Change is necessary for continuing success.
The age old custom of football being strictly a fall and winter bound sport has been challenged numerous times. Each time has proven unsuccessful for one reason or another. However this current climate of constant demand for football and inside information, the appetite for more games has reached a fever pitch.
Just within the last 5 years we have seen 4 major attempts at creating a spring football league. The AAF, XFL 2020, TSL and now a reborn USFL. Each found success in one way or another. The ability to survive however has proven unattainable. Each league provided new ideas within the scoring and rules of play. This is needed if the USFL hopes to break the mold of failed spring football. We have already seen that attendance and viewership aren’t enough to keep a league alive. So what will it take?
We may not yet have the answers for that question. What we do have though is another opportunity to enjoy more football. Fresh ideas and a league of open minds willing to make adjustments is a glimmer of hope. Specialists using separate balls, running clocks to shorten broadcasts and changing the point after play selection aren’t just minor tweaks. What other changes might we see this season?