Haste Makes Waste, Even in Sports

Everyone in sports is set on speeding up the games we love so much, but Joe Healy isn’t sure why.

They say that patience is a virtue.

They say that anything worth doing takes time.

They say that slow and steady wins the race.

All of these phrases are accepted parts of the English language. Few would argue the validity of the point these phrases are trying to get across.

And if that’s the case, why do we spend so much time and effort trying to speed up our sports?

Every year, each professional sports league passes new legislation. Now, I haven’t done extensive research on the subject, but it seems to me that an inordinate amount of legislation is passed with the simple goal of getting the games over with faster.

What’s the rush?

I don’t know about you, but I watch sports to be entertained. I assume, to a certain extent at least, that most people feel the same way. What’s the problem, then, with being entertained for a little while longer? I guess DVR’d episodes of “Big Bang Theory” just can’t wait.

I really don’t want to hear complaints about the length of the game if you are there in person. You paid good money to get into the game. Why on earth would you want it to be over so much faster? If I’m paying to get into an event, I want my money’s worth and to me, that includes spending a good deal of time at the stadium.

To use a real-life example of what I’m talking about, let’s take a look at what the NBA has done of late.

Just prior to the start of this season, the NBA announced a rule that says that players must be in the jump circle ready to start the game within 90 seconds of the pregame introductions finishing.

First off, I’m upset if I’m there in person. Part of the fun of going to a game is to see the players interact with their teammates and opponents before the jump ball. Now, there’s no time, as players have to hustle in to the circle so that they are there in time.

Imagine if this rule were in place a decade or so ago. We wouldn’t have been treated to classic pre-game moments like the many contentious handshakes between Shaq and Kobe throughout their respective careers.

My biggest issue with it, though, is that’s it’s not saving all that much time. How much time did it take to get everyone into the circle before? Three minutes? Thank goodness we all have that 90 seconds back. To think we were so wasteful with our time before.

I hate to admit it, but my favorite sport, baseball, is the worst about this. Because of fears that the young people of today aren’t as taken with baseball as they are with basketball and football, MLB has done all they can to speed up the game. For the record, I’m not of the opinion that speeding up the game makes a real difference in getting youngsters to enjoy the game. To me, if you are going to like baseball, you are going to like baseball. That the game takes 15 minutes longer than it did 20 years ago won’t change that.

But that’s not my biggest gripe. My biggest issue is that MLB is so hellbent on shortening games that it has kept them from making changes that many feel the game desperately needs. There needs to be more instant replay in baseball. But we don’t have that yet because everyone is so frightened that the pace of the game will suffer.

Cutting out the pregame handshakes in the NBA in the name of saving time is one thing. I don’t like it, but at least it’s somewhat innocuous. What the MLB is doing is much worse. They are holding up progress in large part thanks to a fear of the game being five minutes longer.

All I’m asking is that we sit back and enjoy our sports. Our lives are moving faster than ever. In these days of the 24-hour news cycle and 24-hour supermarkets, it feels like we are constantly in a hurry, running on a mouse wheel. I, for one, don’t want that mentality to creep into sports.

Joseph Healy writes for The Fan Manifesto. You can follow him on Twitter at @Joe_On_Sports. You can follow the entire FanMan team here.




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