NOTE: This column appears in the Wednesday, December 31 Times Union

  Last week's article about implementing a “Christmas Moratorium Week” so that high school kids and families would have a whole week off from games and practices at Christmas time got me to thinking about other changes in sports I might make.

  So with everyone making New Year's resolutions, it seems like a good time to list some other changes in sports I would put in place.

  • STOPPING THE CLOCK FOR FIRST DOWNS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL: The point of this rule was to allow the 'chain gang' time to set the chains after a team got a first down, which was fine. But with all of the passing, games often push four hours to play, and that's just too long. For integrity purposes, use the stoppage in the last 5 minutes of each half to make sure things get done fairly.
  • INSTALLATION OF A CONSISTANT PLAY CLOCK IN HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: In college and the pros, when a player is stopped within the field of play the referee marks the ball and raises his hand, which triggers a 40-second clock. In high school, the head referee (in the white hat) decides when to start the 25-second play clock. Well, that becomes pretty subjective. A referee can extend or shorten a game by his own whim. He can stand there and wait for the game clock to run to :24 before starting the play clock, meaning the team with the ball wouldn't have to run another play and wasting 24 perfectly good seconds that something could happen in.
  • SHORTER SEASONS: If football is the model by which sports leagues are operated, then its primary strategy is that 'less is more'. Fewer games, each means a little more, more intensity, more rivalry, more value for the teams and their customers. I would shorten baseball to 120 games starting in mid-April with teams in domes and warmer cities like San Diego and Miami having heavier early-season home schedules. There is nothing dumber than watching baseball in snow in Chicago, Denver and Minneapolis. I would also shorten the NBA and NHL seasons to 60 games starting November 1 with their playoffs starting in April.
  • MOVE BACK THE DOUBLE-BONUS IN BASKETBALL TO 12 FOULS: The point of this rule is to make it harder for teams who are losing to using 'fouling' as a way to get the ball back. When a team gets to 10 fouls in a half, their opponents shoot two free throws even if they miss the first. Free throws are as much a part of the game as anything else, and I believe that 'complete teams' win games. A team that doesn't rebound well doesn't get a break from the rules to help even out the rebounding margin, and a team that doesn't shoot free throws well shouldn't be bailed out because they play well enough to get a lead but aren't good enough at free throws to keep it.
  • BASEBALL FIGHTS: OK, every summer we have to endure these silly delays in games when a pitcher gets his underwear in a knot by something a batter or a team does and he puts a fastball right into a batter's ribs. Then the batter either walks out toward the pitcher or charges the mound, the benches empty and so do the bullpens. Most of what happens next is a lot of yelling at each other and a lot of deal making between opposing players not to actually fight. Baseball needs to institute a 'third man in' policy like hockey has. Notice you haven't seen any big brawls in hockey in a decade? They went away because now, if two boys want to have a “go” they can do that. But anyone else who tries to intervene is automatically ejected. So if a pitcher hits a batter and the batter charges the mound, the batter and pitcher can work it out on their own…and anyone else who joins in is ejected and gets a suspension (5 games for positions players and 10 games for pitchers).
  • FOULING OUT IN OVERTIME IN BASKETBALL: I would give everyone who is still in a basketball game in overtime who has not fouled out an extra foul in overtime. In other words, a player who has four fouls at the end of regulation would need two fouls until they foul out. I know, 'overtime is an extension of the fourth quarter'. But I would like to see those who haven't fouled out have a chance to impact the overtimes more.
  • END THE OPENING TIP OFF IN BASKETBALL: Lets be honest, most jump balls at the beginning of the games are tossed so poorly that its pointless. Either give the visiting team the ball at mid-court to start the game or have a coin toss and let the visitors call it.
  • RESTROOMS IN THE PRESS BOXES AT HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL FIELDS: I CAN NOT be the only one who thinks four hours is a long time to be no where near the 'little announcers room', am I? Just sayin'…

 Those are just a few of the things I would change. There are others, but these are the ones I would change for-sure today if I were King of the Land of Sports.

  Whatever your resolutions or goals for 2015, I hope you have made them for right reasons and that you'll stick to them.

  HAPPY NEW YEAR! And whatever you do, don't drink and drive tonight, or ever again. You can't read my ramblings on page 1B if your name and picture are on page 3A.