Why am I here?

They ought to change that rule!

It’s a complaint heard from spectators of many sports – sometimes when their teams are losing, but also when they’re frustrated when they see something on the field that they perceive as contrary to the spirit of their sport, or at least not a legitimate part of it.

This blog aims to explore what constitute the fundamental aspects of individual sports, how sports can change their rules to improve what we see, how these changes reflect prevailing cultures in sports and the societies which surround them, and how attempts to change can go awry.

I hope to write about a lot of sports here, but I’ll focus on Australian Rules, soccer and American football as these are the sports I’m most familiar with. I watch all three sports hoping to be entertained, and wanting a fair contest, where each team is given maximum opportunity to display the skills which make those sports great.

I expect that I’ll be saying “what if” quite a bit. When suggesting a thought experiment to do with a certain sport – say, footballs should be cubic rather than oval – I’ll ask readers to remember that if all of you got together at my local park, there still wouldn’t be enough of you to try out the changes I’m writing about – barring the unlikely success Kickstarter campaign, all of these proposals will stay on the page, and out of the sports that you already love (actually, trialling some of these ideas would be really cool and fun… just unlikely).

I realise that some people like their sports exactly the way they are. I hope you realise that whenever I write about change, all I want to remove from sports are the things that – as far as I can tell – no-one comes along to watch. I don’t want to change your sport into another sport; I’d simply like everyone to accept that other sports have solved shared problems, and you can borrow their solutions.

This blog will usually ignore the “officials should just enforce the rules” solution. If that were a solution, there wouldn’t be a problem. Sports officials are not perfect, but nor are they idiots – and at times their sports create situations which set them up, if not to fail, at least to be criticised regardless of their decisions.

So, if you choose to leave comments – and I am genuinely interested in people’s considered opinions – please provide them in the spirit in which this blog is written: with an open mind, some imagination and in the hope of enjoyable sport-watching for us all.



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