Over at USA Today -- Slogan: "All the News That's Fit to Print in Four Paragraphs or Less" -- they got together the last couple of weeks and asked the staff to vote for the "10 things to change in sports."
Then the nation's newspaper -- Alternate Slogan: "You Give Us a Nuclear Holocaust and We'll Give You a Pie Chart" -- counted it down, one breakthrough idea per day.
No. 8 was "lower ticket prices." Really.
No. 6 was "cut player salaries." Really.
No. 3 was "shorten long pro seasons." Really.
I'd run down the other seven changes, but I'm not sure my readers could handle the intellectual load this early in the day.
(Incidentally, I understand that USA Today -- Second Alternate Slogan: "We Don't Win Pulitzers, But We've Got Pictures!" -- also polled its staffers on "10 things to change in the world." Here's that complete list:
1. Lengthen average lifespan.
2. Hot lunch for orphans.
3. All beverages in hotel mini-bars are free.
4. Bigger bags of peanuts in coach.
5. Cough medicine that tastes better.
6. All restaurants must deliver.
7. Make toilet-paper dispensers easy to reach.
8. Legalize drinking-and-driving.
9. No breaking news on weekends.
10. No stigma associated with women getting breast implants.
(Did you notice that USA Today just bumped its newsstand price from 50 cents to 75 cents? This is to cover the cost of adding Alaska and Hawaii to its weather map.)
The USA Today sports staff also tackled "high-concept" troubles to fix -- in baseball, the designated hitter; in college basketball, the possession arrow; in the NFL, sudden-death overtime.
They stayed away from the growing problem of corked mallets in lawn croquet.
Anyway, although I've never gotten a chance to work at USA Today -- my goal was to be a foreign correspondent there, because you can write most of your stories from home and just make up sources' names and stuff -- I'd like to take this opportunity to present Couch Slouch's "10 things to change in sports."
1. On an NFL Sunday, no two games can be in commercial at the same time.
2. Remove goals from soccer matches and determine winners solely on judging.
3. Legalize sports betting, and tax revenues for municipal improvements. "Support your local school system: Give the points."
4. The seventh-inning stretch should be moved to the fifth inning for those people who want to leave a little early to beat traffic.
5. Referees and umpires work for minimum wage, plus tips.
6. Pay college athletes not to come to campus during school week, freeing up the better-looking women for the rest of us.
7. ESPN should "sign off" once a month for an hour or two and clean the "SportsCenter" set a bit.
8. No drug testing for athletes -- record breaking is good for the business of sports, and there's more work for all of us!
9. Re-institute 1953 FCC regulation requiring all local over-the-air stations to broadcast one hour of bowling per day.
10. Replace the chain gang with bomb-sniffing dogs.
P.S. Ironically, I can't think of a thing to change at USA Today.
Ask The Slouch
Q. My husband often brings home your columns for me to read. Did you ever ask any of your wives to read your columns? (Vanessa Murphy-Krehely; Riviera Beach, Md.)
A. As a rule -- and if you were there, you would have understood the reasoning behind this -- my first ex-wife (a) would not read any of my columns and (b) would not speak to me after 4:15 p.m. EST weekdays and 11:30 a.m. EST weekends.
Q. You saw what happened to Serena Williams. Don't we need instant replay in tennis? (Marc Stewart; Houston)
A. What area of life wouldn't benefit from instant replay? Heck, if they had replay during Watergate, I doubt Nixon gets reelected in '72.
Q. Will you be watching or appearing on ESPN's new network for college sports, ESPNU? (Steve Woods; Hagerstown, Md.)
A. Actually, due to my somewhat checkered educational background, I'd be better suited for ESPNJC.
Q. At all the televised poker tournaments, it seems like many of the best players only have their mothers watching in support. Where are all the hot babes and groupies? (Lenny Freed; Lyndhurst, Ohio)
A. Scrabble tournaments, I imagine.
Q. Ken Jennings has won more than $1.4 million on "Jeopardy." How much could you win on "Jeopardy"? (Sean Hogan; Springfield)
A. Let me put it this way -- you just won more money here than I would on "Jeopardy."
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!