NASCAR is not alone in making changes to longstanding formats or adopting new policies as a way to enhance their sports. Here are some recent changes in other sports.
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
• Major League Baseball added a wild-card team — a team in each league with the best record that did not win its division — to the playoffs in 1995. In 2012, it added a second wild-card team in each league, bringing the number of teams in the postseason to 10.
This season, after a limited replay system in 2013 that determined whether balls cleared the fence for home runs, MLB will implement a challenge replay system for everything but strikes and balls and force-outs at second base.
• The NFL took its Super Bowl outdoors in a cold-weather city in 2014, and the success of the game at MetLife Stadium (above) outside New York City will no doubt lead to another non-domed game above the Mason-Dixon line.
And the league’s competition committee is considering adding a third-wild card team to the postseason, which would increase the number of playoff teams to 12. Commissioner Roger Goodell has also floated the idea of eliminating the extra-point kick in favor of running a play for two points.
But wait, there’s more. The NFL also made a change in the Pro Bowl by doing away with its conference vs. conference format and determined the two sides through a draft after the players were voted into the game.
• College football adopted a four-team playoff to determine the BCS championship. The new approach launches next season, after years of polls and computers created mythical champions followed by an unpopular system of pairing two teams in a title game. If this proves successful, look for the field to expand to eight — and as many as 16 — teams in the future.
• The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament expanded from 65 to 68 teams in 2011 with the introduction of the First Four, which opens the competition a few days before the rest of the field begins play. There’s annual speculation on whether the tournament should expand to as many as 96 teams.
| Randy Covitz, firstname.lastname@example.org