There’s something arguably wrong with every sport; how could it not be so? Soccer doesn’t have enough scoring for game scores to be a good indicator of relative performance, football and flat racing hurt their players, NASCAR is climate-hostile, and on and on. The rules of life – laws – are perpetually flawed too, but we constantly try to fix them. I think sport authorities should be more willing than they are to fix the games from time to time, recognizing that some fixes will be mistakes (the DH in baseball was silly and remains so). Taller and better players have reduced basketball to “the teams run down the court and somebody puts the ball through the net. Then they run back and someone puts the ball in the other net. Occasionally the ball doesn’t go in the net: the team that has fewest of these mistakes wins.” The idea is on the table to raise the net, analogous to the idea (not on the table, though I wish it were) to enlarge the soccer goal by a foot or two each way, and to banning anchored putting in golf.
The last of these is scheduled not to happen until 2016; easing transitions is often a good idea, but does it take three years for golfers to put their long putter in the attic and buy another? The basketball idea, which makes sense, raises the interesting question, should we pick a number, say one foot, and raise all the hoops that much at once, or raise them an inch every season until we’re happy with the result? Sometimes we change laws a lot all at once, like allowing same-sex marriage; sometimes we make small adjustments, like the inflation adjustment in Social Security payments.
Some things have to be highly quantized: for the Brits to convert to right-side driving in stages, as the joke goes (“for the first week, the new rules will only apply to buses and trucks”) would be a bad idea. But others allow for gradual change. A one-foot change all at once would greatly devalue the muscle memory of all players, but gradual change would keep those skills mostly in service as the transition occurred. I don’t think the mechanical costs of converting goals to be adjustable in this way are as daunting as, say, making soccer goals adjustable.