From long seasons to overzealous officials to never-ending chatter to plot points in Rocky to pretty much everything about soccer, certain parts of sports can annoy as much as they delight. Though Festivus is months away, consider this our airing of grievances: Here, in no particular order, are the 29 most annoying things in sports.
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Poker players wearing sunglasses
You know who wears sunglasses indoors? How are you allowed to cover your face in a game where reads and tells are almost as important as math and probability? Wearing sunglasses in poker is like an NFL running back having a football-print jersey or a boxer wearing an invisibility cloak. Do sunglass-wearers get respect? Why should they? They're cowards whose lyin' eyes betray them.
Hockey in June
Game 6 of the NHL Finals will take place Sunday in Nashville, where the temperature is forecasted to be 93 degrees. It's like having the Winter Olympics in Cabo.
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NFL's new celebration rules
Sanctioned fun is not fun. Last year, Ezekiel Elliot's kettle jump was one of the highlights of the NFL season -- creative, enjoyable and just a little dangerous given the NFL's strict anti-celebration rules. But the league had to go and ruin all of that by removing those sanctions and essentially inviting players to create good touchdown content, all of which will feel hollow now that it's not just allowed but seemingly encouraged. It's like the difference between going to a bar when you're 20 versus when you're 21. It's not as much fun when it's allowed.
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It's not the act of flopping that's so bothersome. If a soccer player wants to degrade himself by flailing his arms in an unsportsmanlike way in order to get a call while the whole world sees his dishonesty and pettiness, hey, do you, man. No, the problem is that soccer, which is aware of this issue, refuses to put more officials on the field to combat it. One referee can't possibly cover enough field to see every time a guy take a dive. Get soccer refs some help. And then eject those clown who flop because, let's be honest, it really is the act of flopping that's so bothersome.
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Timeouts as bailouts
When J.J. Watt is running free at Andrew Luck, the Colts quarterback can't call timeout to stop the bull rush and inevitable sack. That'd be ridiculous. So why is it okay for a basketball player to call timeout when the defense has collapsed around him? It does a disservice to the defensive effort being made on the play. The same thing goes for players calling timeout after getting a loose ball. The play is still alive. Don't kill it with a whistle.
Free timeouts on reviews/foul outs
When a player fouls out, a basketball coach is given time to put in a replacement. But during that time, coaches often huddle with players for an impromptu and uncredited timeout, thus softening the blow of the disqualification. Yes, they're timeout thieves. The same thing happens on official reviews -- coaches take advantage of incompetent refs to sneak in a TO they might be out of otherwise.
Mark ZerofMark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
I don't care how handsome you are or how charming your accent is, Jason Day; just hit the damn ball already.
Stephen LewStephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Complaining about over-coverage
If people were turning on their TVs or not clicking on stories about Lavar Ball, media entities would stop covering LaVar Ball. But just like Tim Tebow's football career and Deflategate and Linsanity and Tim Tebow's baseball career before, a subject's popularity determines the amount of coverage it receives. Don't worry -- coverage of LaVar Ball will stop when people actually stop watching and reading about him rather than simply claiming they don't want to.
Blimp shots that were clearly taken days ago
It's raining in Boston for a Patriots game but we see a shot of a crystal-clear day when the game goes to commercials. You're not fooling me, bub. I know you shot that stuff three days ago and if I'm not seeing what Faneuil Hall looks like right now, at this exact moment, then what's it all for? And while we're here, the Redskins play in Landover, not Washington D.C.. The U.S. Capitol has as little to do with FedEx Field as the Empire State Building. Stay true to the actual location of the team and show the sights of Landover in these shots. There are so many potential ones to use, like the entrance to Six Flags, the exit to Six Flags and that shopping center with the Chuck E. Cheese and TGI Friday's.
Early season polls
It's not that I don't enjoy the absurdity of trying to rank teams nobody has seen play, because I do. I really, really do. The pet peeve comes when voters stick to their original top 25, though the landscape completely changes once games begin. It shouldn't take a bad preseason top-five team two months to fall out of the top 25, nor should a mid-major with a big win under its belt and an undefeated record have to enter the poll at No. 24 and slowly climb their way up by watching the big boys in front of them fall.
Rick OsentoskiRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Fans booing pitchers throwing to first base
What, are they supposed to allow the runner to get a huge lead that'll help him steal a base? Throwing over keeps baserunners honest. It's part of the game. Focus your boos on something that counts.
Tim HeitmanTim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Players calling time in baseball
Like this. Players should never be allowed to call time. Why do umpires grant the request when players ask for it? A pitcher should never need step off the mound because he's the one who decided to step on it. And a batter is there at the pitcher's behest. Once the pitcher steps in, it's go time.
There are obvious times when a player might legitimately need a timeout (a batter gets something in his eye, perhaps). Fine. Pitchers who take a TO get an automatic ball added to the count and batters take an automatic strike. It'd be unfair to the 5 percent of batters/pitchers who actually need the timeout but given that it would stop the other 95 percent of frivolous requests, we can tolerate the injustice.
Rick OsentoskiRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
G.O.A.T. discussions at inopportune times
There was legitimate debate last week about whether LeBron was better than MJ. Last week! Why wouldn't you just wait until after the Finals when the LeBron career trajectory will have been drastically adjusted according to the result. Otherwise, it's like recapping the Oscars before the show.
G.O.A.T. talk is great. Unanswerable debate is part of what makes sports so fun. But have those discussions at the right time. When Rafael Nadal wins the French Open on Sunday, it'll be a perfect moment to aruge about whether he's better than Federer or can pass him on the all-time Grand Slam list. Before then, it's just hypotheticals about a hypothetical. (And as for LeBron/MJ - Jordan went 6-for-6 in NBA Finals and LeBron is about to be 3-for-8. Stop it already.)
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Does it matter that Ottawa didn't sell out an Eastern Conference Finals game? If the game is going to be aired on TV in all locations, then no. Don't judge the good people of Canada for this. You don't know what was going on up there that night. Maybe it was free maple log night at Tim Horton's. Conversely, don't be impressed by bogus sellout streaks, like the one the Redskins say they have dating back to the '70s. All tickets being sold (and that's in debate) is one thing. Implying that all the seats are being used, though the upper deck at FedEx Field on NFL Sunday often looks like it does when the stadium hosts a Honduras-Canada soccer friendly, is another.
Overreactions to Game 1s
Every year we remind ourselves not to read too much into the results of Week 1 of the NFL season or that one game of a best-of-seven playoff series is not a reliable predictor of what's to come. And still, every year, we do it anyway because sometimes - like in this year's NBA Finals - it ends up being right.
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The interchangeability of golf tournaments
Almost all golf tournaments are the same. Four rounds, weekday threesomes, cut, weekend pairings based on leaderboard position, low score wins, sudden-death playoff. It's a fine system that's worked for decades but there are so many ways it can be improved. Say what you will about the USGA's 18-hole playoff at the U.S. Open (I love it, many don't) but it's something. Use the Stableford scoring system. Have more group events. Fiddle with playoff formats, like playing first to five skins. Play a scramble. Anything to break the monotony. But, if it happens (and it won't), remember that all things are better in moderation. Do them too much and all of a sudden the new, quirky tournament features lose all meaning and importance, like when the NHL watered down interest in those outdoor hockey games by holding multiple such events every year.
Rob SchumacherRob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
The starts of college football and basketball season
These seasons end with a bang but start with a whimper. The former begins with two or three terrible Thursday night games often involving Wake Forest while the latter has no real set date and just kind of starts without you knowing it, like when you're walking around and see a lights, tinsel and ornaments in a display and are like, "oh right, Christmas is coming up." And then you realize it's October and, no, it really isn't.
Ben QueenBen Queen-USA TODAY Sports
Owners on the sideline
If you own the team, you're allowed to put yourself in at quarterback if you want. But just because you can doesn't mean you should. An owner on the sideline is tacky. It shouldn't happen. But since it does, it can lead to some classic schadenfreude when you imagine Jerry Jones hopping into his suite's elevator and going down to the field to celebrate, just in time to see Aaron Rodgers throw to a wide-open receiver to end the Cowboys playoff run three hours after it started. Falcons owner Arthur Blank is lucky the internet hooked on to the 28-3 chyron meme after the Super Bowl rather than him and his wife looking shellshocked as Kyle Shanahan started pulling a Costanza, basically driving around with the Lombardi Trophy dragging behind his car.
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Showing the celebrations of the nonessential
When a team or a player wins a big event, don't cut to the crowd to show exalted fans (or devastated ones). Stay with the players. This is their joy. There will be plenty of times to show fans later. As a tennis watcher, this is a common complaint. A player will win a match and the camera will inexplicably cut to the player's box where, shockingly, the inhabitants (family, coaches, girlfriends, boyfriends, physios, Anna Wintour) are clapping for their player. What drama! Meanwhile, viewers are missing out on the post-match celebration and handshake, both of which can often be the most interesting part of a boring match. We know mom is going to be happy. We know the coach is going to unsuccessfully try and stifle a smile. We don't need that visual to convey that knowledge. What we don't know is whether two French players are going to give each other an icy kiss or stick out their hand and then, at the last second, pull it back to run their fingers through the side of their hair, saying "psych!"
Basketball coaches never getting tossed
Why does a baseball manager get tossed for looking the wrong way at an umpire but guys like Coach K and Jim Harbaugh can stand there dropping bad language like they're guest starring on an episode of Veep and never get thrown out unless Gene Hackman specifically asks for it? The answer here is clear: Baseball umpires have a God complex and think they're part of the show. For as much as we say that about NBA and NFL refs, they'll at least get shown up by coaches and take it. Umpires aren't having it. It's too bad because football would be a lot more entertaining if Bill Belichick got tossed for lobbing some f-bombs or if Harbaugh was ejected for being Harbaugh and then stripped in protest, throwing his khakis toward midfield as if to challenge his removal whilst giving Dockers some free advertising.
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Players stepping out of the batter's box/pitchers
We sent a man to the moon 48 years ago and, in the time since, have developed phones thousands of times more powerful than the equipment that got them there. And at no point during that nearly half-century span has anybody developed a batting glove that didn't need to be yanked down excessively in between pitches? Throw in pitchers who stand on the mound in between pitches like they're posing for a portrait and the delays can become intolerable.
I love baseball. I almost never care about the length of the games. And though I acknowledge it'd be far better for the sport if games were closer to two hours than to three, the drama and buildup of the wait between pitches makes the game so much more exciting. But there's a different between using time to build suspense and blatantly wasting it.
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Plot hole in Rocky
You can't teach speed. Agility? Maybe. Endurance? Absolutely. But speed? Sorry. No way Rocky was beating Apollo in a foot race during one montage worth of training. Thus, I'm not entirely convinced Apollo didn't take a dive in this beach race that makes this shallow-water celebration phony, at best.
College Football Playoff rankings/BCS standings
It's not that the midseason CFP rankings exist, it's that they're taken so seriously. Of course, the people behind the College Football Playoff want to create debate about which four teams will make the playoff and releasing rankings weeks before the final decision will be made is a good way to generate completely meaningless controversy. What's annoying is how seriously people take it -- as if the rankings on Halloween will have any impact on the final list released five weeks later. How many times has an SEC team been counted out only to reanimate before Thanksgiving thanks to bad losses by schools predictably choking? How many times have teams been penciled into the national championship (in the BCS era) or playoff (in the current era) only to lose a game in an upset nobody saw coming but everybody knew was possible? (All those things delightfully happened in 2007 when No. 2 West Virginia lost to lowly Pittsburgh in the final game of the 2007 season after being all but invited to the title game, while LSU, left for dead after a loss in their regular-season finale, leapfrogged from No. 5 into the title game courtesy Ls from three of the teams ranked ahead of them.
Kevin JairajKevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
NBA fans proselytize, looking down upon those who can't recognize the greatness in their game, which is in the midst of the most boring season since Homeland's season 2. They love to tell you how great the game is, almost as if they're trying to convince themselves of the same fact. It reeks of effort which is ironic given that the NBA's 82-game regular seasons reeks of anything but.
Bob DeChiaraBob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Music at NBA games
When do you listen to the most music? In the car? Doing yard work? During monotonous periods at your job? Sitting by the pool? Working out? Cooking? Chores? In other words, music is often played to enliven boring activities. Side note: NBA arenas play music during NBA games.
Ed SzczepanskiEd Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
MLB review isn't quite the disaster it was in year one, when the umpire's communications with New York took so long you'd have sworn they were communicating by pigeon. But one major annoyance remains: managers stalling for time to check TV replays and see if a review is viable. They'll give the "wait, wait" motion with their hands, as if they're the ones in charge of the game or they'll make a pitching coach walk 10 steps toward the mound before calling him back upon seeing that, no, the ball hadn't beat the runner to first base. The needs to be a finite amount of time a manager has to decide on a review, that process shouldn't involve television and it should be closer to one second than one minute. The tennis model is ideal: A player may challenge only in the seconds after a point, with their gaze locked upon the spot in question. After that, no dice. You can't look at replays, seek advice from others or even think about it for more than an instant. It's either obvious or it's not.
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Obsessively tracking a sport's ratings
People love to look at the landscape of the playoffs and comment on what will and won't be loved by league offices and TV networks. Why do you care? What's it to you that "[broadcast network] isn't going to like it if [small-market team/unknown athlete] makes [final of big sporting event]?" First off, that idea is often wrong. (See: solid ratings for Nashville's Stanley Cup Final.) Second, how does this change your enjoyment of the sporting event? There are plenty of people who should care about television ratings - television executives, league suits, writers for sports business newspapers, etc. And it's fine if you're also interested in the topic. But too often we evaluate the worth and quality of events because of how many people watched or how much money was made. Just watch the game.
Getty Images/Flickr RFG Fletcher
Replays of replays
Once a review is asked for or called, it shouldn't take any longer than 30 seconds. How many times have you been watching a football game at home, seen the replay that will overturn or uphold the call, texted back and forth about said call, had a conversation with people you're watching with about whether the refs could somehow blow the call and then still have to wait 30 seconds to hear the announcement? How can it take so long? If you have to watch the same replay multiple times to figure out what happened, then isn't it automatically true you don't have indisputable visual evidence? Every replay you watch puts it into further dispute! Make it easy. Watch one replay from every available angle at real speed. If there isn't enough to overturn the call after that set of clips, then the call stands on the field.
Brad MillsBrad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Scoring changes in baseball
On May 19, Bryce Harper hit a ball that wasn't fielded cleanly by Atlanta's Jace Peterson. The first baseman was assessed an error. Twelve days later, Harper received credit for a double and two RBI, while Peterson had the error taken off the books. TWELVE DAYS LATER.
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