New Year's Resolutions tend to be temporary self-admonishments, band-aids for a paper-cut soul. Offered here are New Year's Revolutions — changes that should occur in a sports world overrun with bad management and neocortex-numbing clichés.
To honor Paul McCartney's appearance at Target Field last summer, these revolutions will number nine:
1. Pop quiz: Is the NFL executive office more evil or incompetent? Correct answer: Yes.
Commissioner Roger Goodell's mismanagement of off-field issues aside, the league talks about player safety, then overturns the suspension of the league's dirtiest player (Ndamukong Suh) for stepping on the league's most important player (Aaron Rodgers), and contemplates an expanded schedule even as Ryan Lindley starts in a playoff game.
Solution: Make Alan Page the NFL's discipline czar. The Viking great and presiding judge would bring logic and gravitas to a silly bunch of circular thinkers. After Page, the NFL's next hire should be an independent player-safety czar, someone charged with caring about the health of America's most popular entertainers.
2. Pay college players who participate in revenue sports.
All the excuses for not doing so are remindful of the complaints Southern businessmen made about the necessity of slavery to their business models. If Jim Harbaugh and Nick Saban can make tens of millions, athletes can earn a bigger stipend while risking limb and lobe.
3. Expand the college football playoffs.
Think TCU would have fared better than Florida State? We shouldn't have to test that theory with a computer program. Without a four-team playoff, Ohio State and Oregon might have been left out of the championship game, instead of being given a chance to earn their way to the title.
4. Limit basketball timeouts.
The Lords of Basketball have turned the most exciting aspect of their game — the close-and-late game — and turned it into a series of commercials and huddles. From now on, each team gets one timeout in the last three minutes. That's it.
5. Spice up hockey overtime.
The AHL finally has adopted the long-advocated, previously-ignored Souhan Rule. Where the NHL offers a five-minute overtime featuring four skaters per side that often ends scoreless and leads to a shootout, the AHL offers a seven-minute overtime. The first three minutes are 4-on-4. After the next whistle, it becomes a 3-on-3 free-for-all that often eliminates the need for a shootout while deciding a hockey game with something resembling hockey. The NHL should take it one step farther, and simply reduce the number of skaters every three minutes, until it's one-on-one. Wouldn't you want to see Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin go one-on-one?
6. Fix sideline reporting, or ditch it.
There are dozens of great journalism schools in the country churning out thousands of talented young reporters, yet 90 percent of sideline reporters do it wrong. They offer soliloquys aimed at proving their own intelligence, or ask timid or silly questions. As taught in Journalism 101, ask short, simple, open-ended questions. It's not that hard.
7. Speed up the national pasttime.
I love baseball. I hate non-baseball — the time spent meandering around the mound, adjusting batting gloves, staring at the third-base coach. If I want to spend four hours watching nothing happening, I'll turn on C-Span.
8. Clean up the language.
Sports jargon, and in particular the ugly language of football, has poisoned the vernacular with its pseudo-militaristic dreck. You don't "gash" a defense; you run through it. The "Mike 'backer" doesn't "fill the A-gap." The middle linebacker stops the run. Some football phrases — A quarterback "throwing open'' a receiver, and "catch radius" — are wonderfully evocative. Most are an assault on the eardrum.
9. Finally, a word to my media friends.
You probably spent tens of thousands on journalism school. You're getting paid to cover games in a major market. You can start a question with something more intelligent than "Talk about ...'' You can utter a sentence that isn't a verbal backrub for a losing team. You can get through a paragraph without referencing "resilience'' or "adversity.'' Unlike a lot of the people you cover, your brain hasn't been concussed a half-dozen times. Please prove that it remains in working order.