x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Some advice from a rookie NFL fan as the draft looms: it's time to play by my rules

Regular readers will know that my relationship with fans of American football got off to a rocky start: I wrote about it, and they wanted to throw rocks at me.

Regular readers will know that my relationship with fans of American football got off to a rocky start: I wrote about it, and they wanted to throw rocks at me. To restore goodwill, I have since tried to educate myself in the ways of gridiron, and have grown to appreciate it. So I am genuinely looking forward to watching my first NFL Draft this week. Who else but the Americans would make a glitzy spectacle of an administrative process like sharing out rookies?

The extravaganza is especially remarkable when you consider it is a glorified version of the way we used to pick teams at school. The weak teams get first pick an idea I would describe as slightly Communist if I wasn't trying to build bridges here and then follows a few rounds of ritualised humiliation until one team effectively says: "Oh, sir, do we have to have Batchelor?" The draft has become so beloved that perhaps the NFL might like to incorporate some other playground rules into their fine sport. How about:

Shirts v Skins. No need for costly uniforms, as one team simply strips to the waist while the other remains fully clothed. The idea was tested, to limited approval, by Janet Jackson in 2004. Three and in. An excellent way to fill unpopular positions, this rule is soccer-specific and requires the scorer of three goals to immediately become goalkeeper. Could be adapted for the NFL, by making quarterbacks swap with blockers after throwing three touchdown passes.

Ball-owner's rules. This is self- explanatory. Whoever owns the ball decides the rules, often on an ad hoc basis. A model probably favoured by Sepp Blatter, the Fifa president. Play until tea. Avoid the restrictions of a set time frame and simply play until mother calls you in for refreshments. Well, it works fine for cricket. Will Batchelor is a writer, broadcaster and self-confessed cynical sports fan

sports@thenational.ae