I’ve been around sports for a long time, but there are some things I just can’t seem to understand.

I sit across from fellow sportswriter Will Springstead, a man how knows and loves horse racing. He’s tried to explain the concept of a claiming race to me on several occasions. All he gets in return are blank stares.

If your horse wins a claiming race — seemingly the best-case scenario — someone else who put in a claim gets to take him away. But if your horse loses, you have to keep him. I can’t see the good news here. I’d be rooting for second place.

I don’t understand why the winner of the coin-flip in football gets to make a choice. The winner can kick off, receive or defer to the second half. It’s certainly an advantage to have that choice.

A coin-flip us an act of random chance. There is no skill involved whatsoever. Why, then, do you reward the winner with an opportunity to affect the game, as if they might have stayed up last night studying film of past coin flips. Just make it heads for a home-team kickoff, tails for a road-team kickoff.

Why do football fans groan when their team uses a “prevent” defense? The game of football has been played and studied for a hundred years. There are thousands of coaches out there sifting through video. Do you think they would use a defense if it didn’t have value?

I will never understand the “trapezoid” rule in hockey. Goalies became skilled enough to skate into the corners and play the puck, so slanted lines were painted on the ice and goalies were prohibited from going into the corners. Lots of hockey people tell me this makes for a better game, but punishing players for being skilled just strikes me as dumb.

Why do place-kickers practice without a helmet on? You have to wear it once the game starts; stands to reason you ought to have it on when you practice.

I can’t understand why the Yankees don’t start all of their home games at 6:30 p.m. Their average game time is about three hours. In New York, it’s going to take about an hour to get home from the game. How do fans get up in time for work the next day?

Years ago fans would go home from work, have dinner with the family and then go to the game (standard starting time was 8 p.m.). Nobody does that anymore. So start earlier and we can stay for the finish.

Why can’t the Knicks put together a winner, or at least, a contender? They’ve got all the resources and money. That’s always been a head-scratcher for me.

How can a TV network switch to the end of an NFL game, as one did early this season, then “by contract” they won’t show you the overtime. Instead the studio hosts watch the monitors and read out the play by play of what’s happening, as if we were all staring at a radio dial.

Imagine if the concept of a claiming race were applied to major-league baseball. The Baltimore Orioles could run as a claimer next summer with little danger of being taken. But on the off chance that they catch fire and win the World Series, someone could take them away. I just don’t get it.

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Contact Sports Editor Greg Brownell via email at brownell@poststar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @glensfallsse.


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