Tag: sports

Dumbest Rules in Sports: The NFL Overtime System

This is another article from my time in the Houston sports media. It was meant to kick off a recurring feature with multiple authors, but it looks like it’s all on my shoulders now.

When you introduce a new feature called “The Dumbest Rules in Sports,” it makes sense to kick it off with a look at the NFL, whose rules committee comes from a magical realm of non-Euclidean maps. After only five decades of overtime games, the NFL noticed that it had a problem: an unbalanced overtime system that lets a coin toss directly influence the outcome of a game. Rejecting proven solutions, the rules committee thought and thought, until one of them shouted: “I’ve got it! Let’s replace it with an arbitrary, bureaucratic tangle that still lets a coin toss directly influence the outcome of a game!”

How did it come to this? Let’s take a look.

Continue reading “Dumbest Rules in Sports: The NFL Overtime System”

Madden NFL: Geriatric Checkers Edition

I spent a while as a writer and editor at a sports media company down in Houston. Their history is now so complicated that I can’t even say the name, but I still got to have some fun there. Here’s an article that I published in their humor section. 


For the upcoming Texans at Redskins game on Nov. 18, our editors assigned us a challenge: use Madden NFL to simulate the game and attempt to correctly predict the outcome.

It’s a great idea; the game has an excellent record of predicting winners, with correct calls in ten of the last 15 Super Bowls. We leapt at the opportunity, but our XBox is currently having difficulty running Madden, thanks to a minor equipment malfunction.

Continue reading “Madden NFL: Geriatric Checkers Edition”

How Not to Name Your Pro Sports Team

This is a lesson that pretty much everybody seems intent on teaching us these days. The most discussed examples, perhaps, come from the MLS, where Americans try to turn European-style soccer into an American-style spectacle, but they don’t quite have the confidence to act like Americans about it, so instead they adopt team names that say “God we wish we were European,” such as the farcical “Real Salt Lake” (literal translation: “Royal Salt Lake”). Yet for all their testicle-free Euro-envy, they still can’t stand to live without an NFL-style postseason, and they evidently don’t know what relegation is. Do I sound contemptuous enough? I assure you, I’d show them all the scorn they deserve if I knew how. Here’s one man’s valiant effort.

Next, most of you are probably unaware that there is a thing called the IBL, or “International Basketball League.” One reason you’re unaware of it is that if you do a Google search on IBL, you’ll get a page full of hits for the Indian Badminton League, which also has awful names. Consider that for a moment. Getting beaten at marketing on your native soil by the Indian Badminton League has got to hurt like hell, don’t you think?

So, what do you suppose are the chances that a basketball league as inept as the IBL has decent team names? If you said “pretty rancid,” you’d be right. Teams that have come and gone in this league include the East Bay Pit Bulls, which seems to me like a great way to say “we are jerks”; the Lake County Lakers; and the delightful (to list compilers like me) Shanxi Zhongyu. East Bay, incidentally, is Pig Latin for “beast,” and in my opinion “East Bay Beasts” would have been a pretty cool name.

But the Worst Franchise Namers Prize doesn’t belong to the MSL, the IBL, or the other IBL. Instead, it has to be awarded to the IBL. Yes, there was yet another International Basketball League, once upon a time. This IBL existed from 1999-2001. It boasted a team called “The Cincinnati Stuff,” and for that I think it deserves to be remembered forever. I was alerted to this by a guy who now wishes fervently that he owned a “Stuff” jersey, and now that I think of it, so do I. That league also had such insipid names as the Grand Rapids Hoops, and the Sioux Falls Skyforce. That last one would not be so bad if Sioux Falls was not so easily mistaken for Sioux City, whose airport code is SUX. If the name of your city includes the word “Sioux,” it’s probably better to keep away from the concept of air travel.