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McElroy: It was a forgettable year, but let's keep these sports innovations

McElroy: It was a forgettable year, but let's keep these sports innovations

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As we near the one-year anniversary of the day sports shut down, there’s a lot from the past year we’d like to forget.

The stops and starts of seasons, little to no fans in the stands, and for athletes and coaches, theirr nasal cavities being poked and prodded multiple times a week.

But everything hasn’t been awful, and some sports discovered a few ideas worth keeping.

MLB recently said it will continue with seven-inning doubleheaders and the extra-innings rule of beginning the 10th with a runner on second. This week, a CNBC report said one possibility to emerge from the NFL’s television contract negotiations with Disney could be a “Monday Night Football” doubleheader on ABC and ESPN.

Here are a few other ideas that have emerged during the past 365 days that might be worth keeping:

“Monday Night Football” doubleheaders: Some of the best things in life just happen. That was this case this year when the NFL had to reshuffle multiple NFL games because of COVID-19 concerns, leading to extra Monday night contests.

Should Disney proceed with this idea, it could be creative with how to schedule these games. The most logical would be to hold an East Coast matchup in the 5 p.m. window with a bigger national matchup, then a West Coast matchup at 8:20 p.m. The NFL also could alter weeks, with a national matchup at 7 and a more West Coast-based game at 10, as they have traditionally done on Week 1.

It’s hard to imagine should ABC/ESPN pursue this idea that they would want the games to be played simultaneously, and with the rising popularity of sports gambling across the country, another prime-time television window would only bring more eyeballs.

Also, since the NFL isn’t billing me $3 billion for this idea: Count me in!

Keep regular-season hockey miniseries: The NHL schedule was altered again this year, shortening the season and implementing multiple back-to-back contests to lessen travel. The rescheduling has produced matchups in the same city often with a day off between them creating miniseries.

Rivals Washington and Pittsburgh met up four times in the past two weeks, with each team winning two.

Much like MLB in seeing the Yankees and Red Sox battle over a three-night span, there’s something about tuning in to see the Capitals and Penguins pound one another on a Tuesday and knowing you’ll get another round less than 48 hours later on Thursday.

More outdoor hockey: Also, for the NHL, the Lake Tahoe setting was amazing.

How about instead of the Stadium Series, let’s take hockey outdoors for the Capitals vs. Pens at the National Mall in D.C. or the Rangers vs. the Islanders in Central Park.

Perhaps next year, the Kraken play a home game right on the coast of the Puget Sound with the Great Wheel and Space Needle in the backdrop.

End-of-season college basketball flex scheduling: All the headaches caused by shuffling of schedules in college basketball probably have left many empty Tylenol bottles in the offices of coaches and directors of basketball operations.

But what also occurred in the Atlantic 10 included VCU picking up a game and significant win over St. Bonaventure in February.

Suppose more schedule flexibility could be available to help conference contenders.

Conference USA tested this in 2018, and it’s worth revisitingt by some mid-majors.

Each school would play a number of regular-season conference games, leaving the final four dates open. Before the final two weeks of the season, seed the schools in your conference, and if you finish in the top five, Nos. 1 through 5 would play each other for the next four games to conclude the season in attempt to bolster their NET ranking and tournament résumé.

This feature can only heighten the stakes of the regular season and give your conference contenders a possible résumé boost late in the season.

Slam dunk contest at All-Star halftime: Its head scratching why the NBA is having an All-Star Game at all this year. Hint: It has a lot to do with television contracts.

However, one change in this year’s game is including the dunk contest at halftime instead of holding it on All-Star Saturday night.

The dunk contest, along with the skills challenge and 3-point contest, are made-for-TV events, but All-Star Saturday night drags on too long as does the dunk contest. The NBA could extend the All-Star halftime, much like the Super Bowl; limit the contest field to eight players who are allowed only two attempts at a dunk per round over a quarterfinal, semifinal and finals bracket, and crown a champion before the second half.

Plus, peer pressure leads people to do unpredictable things. Who knows? Maybe a roaring crowd chanting his name could finally give us LeBron James in the dunk contest?

Wes McElroy hosts a daily sports talk show at noon on 910 and 105.1.

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The Diamond might have only been at 30% capacity but it was a roar that not only stopped me in my tracks but one that left a lasting impression, especially for those who pondered about playing the game again over those 600 days.

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