Hot Pot Lifestyle

Hot Pot Of Lax: Changing Sports Rules And The Unintended Consequences

10 out of 10.

10 out of 10.

A number of posts on have focused on how changes to the game of lacrosse could improve the product, and these changes have been considered and argued for NCAA Lacrosse, the MLL, and the NLL, and I’m sure it’s not going to stop anytime soon.  But in today’s Hot Pot we’ll be taking a look at past game changes that didn’t exactly work out as intended, and we’ll try to keep this in mind when our next set of suggestions comes up!

The first example of unintended consequences has to do with increased padding in the NHL and increased risk of concussion.  An article in highlights how bigger, tougher shoulder pads are actually more dangerous than smaller shoulder pads even though they tout better protection.  So how does this work?  Well, the shoulder pads do provide better protection… to the shoulders of the guy who is wearing them.  But they ALSO have an unintended effect: helping create worse concussions.  When a player isn’t as worried about getting hurt, they will hit harder.  And when the padding exteriors get harder and made of tougher materials, the impacts become worse.  What seemed like a smart protective move may actually be even more dangerous.  Crazy, right?

Thankfully, the NFL realized this truth back when helmet and shoulder combination pads were introduced.  The idea was that by connecting the helmet to the shoulder pad, neck injuries could be reduced.  The counter argument was that this would allow all NFL players to turn themselves into projectiles with no fear of neck injury.  Thankfully, the latter argument won out because players do that now even with the risk of severe injury.  Imagine how hard and violently James Harrison would hit if he had NO reason not to.

These glaring examples have to do with padding and safety, but rule changes don’t always have to do with safety… sometimes they just have to do with the quality of play, and soccer starting to use offsides is a perfect example of this.

I remember playing soccer without offsides.  The game was even more open, and in a couple passes you could goal to goal with ease.  It was spread out, and you could never forget about your man if you were on defense.  There were breakaways, one on ones and more offensive opportunities than I could ever remember.  22 players were spread out all over the field, and there was plenty of space to operate.  However, once offsides was introduced players were forced to bunch up more and more, as more of the field could be in “offsides territory” due to a good defensive back line.  This resulted in fewer offensive chances, many fewer breakaways and one on ones and changed the game in a major way.  Now teams were looking for free kicks to create offense, and how do you get free kicks?  By getting fouled!  So welcome in even more diving… sweet.  So now it’s harder to score a goal and there is more diving.  Just what we wanted.

I don’t think that better protection in hockey was designed to increase concussions.  And I don’t think that offsides in soccer was meant to promote diving.  But both of these moves helped produce the outcomes in some way, shape or form, so it’s important for us to REALLY think through any rules changes before they are implemented.

Right now the raging debate in college lacrosse surrounds the shot clock.  Some are strong advocates for it, and others against.  But before we even think about really making this change, I think we need to look a little deeper at what could possibly result from a major change like this.  If you’ve got any crazy ideas for what might happen if the shot clock becomes reality we’d love to hear them!

Could it eventually result in zone defenses being made illegal, like in the NBA?

Could it actually lower scoring?




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About the author

Connor Wilson

Connor is the Publisher of He lives in Brooklyn with his better half, continues to play and coach both box and field lacrosse in NYC as much as possible, and covers the great game that is lacrosse full-time. He spends his spare time stringing sticks and watching Futurama.

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