August 29, 2011

Solving sprinting’s false start problem

by Dan Bilicki In: Olympics

I can understand the rules in sprinting that disallow guys from getting a free shot at trying to get a jump on the gun, but does anybody have the fans in mind?

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people attended the Track & Field World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, many with the intention of just watching Usain Bolt do his thing and dominate the 100-metre dash. Guess what? They were sorely disappointed.

Because the world’s fastest man had a single false start, he was disqualified from the race and sent home. Is that really the way that we should be treating the world’s top stars? The guys that make the most money for their sports?

Well, honestly you do have to give everybody the same rules – I mean, come on, imagine if Peyton Manning had five downs to work with or if foul balls weren’t strikes for Derek Jeter. But this one-strike-and-you’re-out policy over false starts in sprinting makes no sense at all. The previous rule of one false start charged to the field and then individual DQs made a lot more sense. But then guys were still trying to get a jump on the gun the first time around because they knew everyone else was too.

My solution is something similar, but with a soccer twist. Also, it would revert back to the previous rule where in any race a false start is first charged to the field and then runners would be DQ’d. That’s a no-brainer. Now, throughout many tournaments, there are three or four races before you make the final. If the rule was that if you were responsible for a false start charged to the field, you are awarded a yellow card. Get charged twice and your tournament is over.

Doesn’t that solve everything? Guys would be hesitant to try to jump the first gun because they wouldn’t want to carry a yellow and the guys who are patient enough to wait for the real start can afford to make one gaffe in the final and not go home. Doesn’t everybody win here?

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