Rich Eisen today had a great discussion on one of the most asinine things we still have in sports today: unwritten rules.
Unwritten rules are inherently stupid, because somebody is trying to enforce something which, by definition, does not exist. If it was actually a rule, it would be written down. The sports they focus on here are golf, tennis and baseball. And actually some of the things they talk about, like crowd noise, aren't actually unwritten rules as those are enforced in golf and tennis, but we'll go with that blanket phrasing for what we're talking about.
In terms of the textbook definition of "unwritten rules," the sport with the most egregious is baseball. I'll never forget Keith Hernandez defending Marlins pitcher Jose Ureña for nailing Ronald Acuña with a fastball on the first pitch of a game because he had hit too many home runs recently.
"They're killing you, you've lost three games, he's got three home runs ... you gotta hit him," Hernandez said.
That particular instance is the most cowardly thing I've ever seen done on a baseball field, but this practice still occurs routinely. And the pitchers are proud of themselves when they do it, because they feel they are honoring some sort of tradition and following the unwritten rules. And as long as there are old assholes like Hernandez in the game perpetuating that nonsense, it's going to continue.
However, going by the blanket term we're using for the sake of this argument, the sport with the most annoying unwritten rules has to be golf. Again, many of the so-called unwritten rules are actually enforced, but everything about "golf etiquette" is so outdated. For all the shit baseball gets about its fans aging out and the sport dying — largely false narratives, at least until the owners started actively sabotaging the sport — golf seems to have no interest in acquiring any fans under the age of 60 or so.
I love what Eisen brings up Pete Rose saying about how baseball fans can be raucous while a batter is trying to hit a ball coming at 96 miles per hour with sink while you can get kicked out of a golf course for rustling a tree branch while a guy hits a ball sitting on the ground.
Augusta National treats its golf course and tournament like you are stepping back in time to a place where there is no technology, noise or fun allowed — which is part of the mystique, I understand. But there are so many more people who would enjoy golf if everybody would just let their hair down a bit and have some fun.
And that's not to even mention tennis, which has many of the same problems listed for golf. But all three of these sports could take a significant step forward if they were to just be slightly less uptight and let people enjoy the game for what it is.
Get rid of unwritten rules.