The annual NHL Winter Classic has become a must see event for hockey fans both die-hard and casual. This year’s contest between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers proved to be another great edition to the series. The past two seasons with HBO 24/7 chronicling the lead up to the even has built the suspense, making it even more dramatic. Even the players, who could easily be cynical about a “gimmick game,” now look forward to the opportunity to play on New Years Day outside in the elements.
If there’s anything the Winter Classic taught us, it’s that sports are better played outside. Look at drive-in movies, patio bars and WrestleMania IX? Better, better, better. So what else could be better outside?
I think we can all agree the NBA is mostly about great stars not great basketball. If you want good basketball, watch Duke/UNC or the Big East Tournament. If you want spectacle and superstars you watch the NBA. Actually if you want fundamentally sound basketball, watch the UCONN women’s team play the Lady Vols. Or not.
Back to the NBA, let’s put more of a spectacle in there for the superstars. My suggestion, 3-3 games on a black top court. Make them play outside in Brooklyn on the blacktop with a chain link fence surrounding the court and old school chain nets. And of course the game will be “playground rules,” meaning call your own fouls, make it-take it, first to 21, and win-by-two are all in effect. In fact, if the whole league changed to this format, I would be pretty excited. Then again, I was a big fan of the arcade game NBA Jam.
Paintball – Urban Edition
Now if you have played paintball, you know you are either in an empty warehouse that in the 90’s probably housed a laser tag arena or on the outer property of some guy’s farm in the middle of West Virginia. While the latter is technically outside, it is still too controlled. My solution? Take it to the real outside. Take it to the streets with major paintball tournaments played in the open in major metropolitan cities like Chicago, NY or LA. Granted there could be the possibility of someone getting shot by a person with an actual gun but that is what makes it exciting! Instead of people living out their fantasies of reenacting the invasion of Normandy, they can pretend they are a vice office and shoot junkies and hookers. You televise this on FX (because honestly they will televise anything) and ratings will go through the roof.
Combat sports have traditionally been fought in closed arenas. I think it is time to expose these guys to the elements. Let’s see how fast Floyd Mayweather’s hands are when he is shivering because the fight is at Lambeau Field in January. See if Junior Dos Santos can defend the UFC Heavyeweight title in a hurricane. Some may say I am making it more dangerous for the fighters but let’s be honest, they get hit repeatedly in the head for millions of dollars, for a few million more, Mike Tyson would wrestle a bear in Alaska. And THAT I would pay to see.
Thought this would be a good time to answer some of the questions that flood the inbox after my articles:
What is Guy Manningham really like in real life? ~Everyone
Guy is the strong silent type, meaning he doesn’t say a word when he beats you at everything. He is very “Barry Sanders” in that way.
You have some interesting points on sports. What is your background? ~John Clayton
While I did work for ESPN, most of my opinions and observations on sports come from years of being a fan, being bored as a fan and a desire to make my bookie’s life a nightmare.
How do I become a professional writer like you? ~Little Jimmy
Fail at everything else viable as a career and get a liberal arts degree. That is a solid start. I suggest my alma mater: Duquesne.
Are you crazy or just plain stupid? ~Mrs. Blue
A little of column A, little of column B.
Brian J. Glynn is a former producer with ESPN and has too much time on his hands. Send your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org