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The 10 stupidest ideas in the history of sport

It was with a heavy heart that SSN read the news that the ICC has once again shelved its idea to launch a World Test Championship - the tournament intended to become the Test cricket World Cup.

Test cricket is great, and the best matches remain etched in the sporting memory in a way that the entertaining-but-forgettable limited overs stuff simply can't match - so the idea of a World Cup of Test cricket featuring the world's best teams all in one place sounded fabulous.

On closer examination, it's a daft idea. Home advantage is so important in the five-day game that choosing a neutral host nation with enough decent pitches would have been impossible (England had been proposed for the first tournament in 2017; needless to say, all the teams except England weren't happy about that).

On top of that, running the tournament properly would take several months: there would need to be at least one group stage, with each team playing a minimum of three five-day games to make it worthwhile - but factoring in the rest periods required, that alone would take a minimum of six weeks.

And how would you decide ties? Run rates and wickets simply can't be compared unless matches are played in the same conditions, and it's clearly impossible for the same wicket at the same ground to be used more than once at a time. And if you did re-use the same wickets to get a fair comparison, they'd need plenty of time to recover.

All in all, the tournament would probably take three months or so - and considering how sick everyone got of the 2007 ODI World Cup, which took just six weeks, it's probably just as well the idea has died once and for all.

Let's not be too hard on the ICC, however - it's far from the stupidest idea ever seen in sport. If you need any convincing of that, take a look at the atrocities which we've listed below:

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The 39th Game

The argument was simple: the Premier League makes shedloads of money, so why not make even more by staging an extra match for each side? So the Premier League thought in 2008 when suggesting an extra match be shoehorned into the schedule during January, with all the sides getting involved in an overseas location over a long weekend.

The problem: The scheme was almost universally loathed by everyone not in line to profit from the predicted £40m-£80m which would have been generated. Also who would be play who? Who would be the team that has to play Man City three times and who would get three games against Palace? The plan was quietly shelved a few months later.

The Stanford 20/20 Cricket Tournaments

Allen Stanford gets out of his helicopter

Flamboyant American billionaire Allen Stanford claimed to have fallen in love with cricket in the mid-2000s, and poured millions of dollars into a series of Twenty20 tournaments and events. All fair enough, at first glance - but the tournament prize funds were so ridiculously high in cricket terms - including a $20 million pot for an England v West Indies T20 series - that people joked it could only have been funded by some sort of massive Ponzi scheme.

The problem: Sadly, it turned out that it was all funded by some sort of massive Ponzi scheme, and Stanford is currently serving a 110-year prison sentence in Florida for his fraud.

Super Seniors Tour Golf

Having a pop at what is now called the Champions Tour is easy: why would you want to watch over-50's playing golf less impressively than the young guys? But when the Seniors game first became a force in golf back in the early 1990s, there was a good reason. Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino and a host of other hugely-popular characters had recently hit 50, and American crowds loved the nostalgia hit of watching their idols once again. So when, a few years later, those big names got too old to compete against the new crop of 50-year-olds, the US PGA Tour decided to try the same trick again with the 'Super Seniors Tour', a new golf tour for 60+ players.

The problem: The guys who were still reasonably good at 50 had really gone off a cliff by the time they hit 60. The standard was awful, players had to miss tournaments constantly due to ill health and grandchildren's birthdays, and TV viewers switched off in their droves.

Six-red snooker and Power Snooker

Six Reds Snooker

Snooker is a fascinating sport, chiefs at World Snooker reasoned in 2009, but people hate all the boring bits early on in each frame. So why not cut to the chase? Start each frame with six reds instead of 15, and each frame will be both quicker and much likelier to be close and dramatic. A test event was staged during the proper World Championship, with a Six Reds World Championship taking place later that year.

The problem: It turns out that what people like about snooker isn't just watching talented people pot balls - if that's all that mattered, they'd watch pool instead. No, the main appeal of the game rests in its very slowness: the build-up of tension, the tactical back-and-forth, the breakthrough as one player picks out a long pot on crowded table, and the nerves beginning to tell on the competitors as they build their lengthy breaks. Six reds managed to remove all of that in one fell swoop, and "snooker's answer to Twenty20" has barely been heard of since.

Having said that, another variant called 'Power Snooker' (dreamed up by Barry Hearn) was launched in 2010, but was so confusing that neither the players nor the referees actually understood what was going on. It died within a year - though their official website does still carry a very hopeful message dated nearly two years ago, promising that "Power Snooker will return in 2013!"

Lingerie Football League

The Lingerie Football League, now known as the Legends Football League

The main problem for NFL fans is the incredibly short season: each side plays just 16 regular season matches, with a maximum of four extra games if you go all the way to the Super Bowl. So over the years many people have tried to find a way to cash in on the sport's popularity in the remaining seven months of the year. The XFL, founded by the creators of WWE wrestling, was a high-profile flop and folded after one season in 2001 - but eight years later, one bright spark came up with the idea of the Lingerie Football League instead, in which seven-a-side teams of women played the sport wearing nothing but bras and knickers. No, we're not making this up.

The problem: As you might imagine, the LFL earned plenty of fans, despite the many righteous voices shouting out in horror at the very idea. Last year the name was changed to Legends Football League, and the outfits modified (though pretty much imperceptibly) to try and quell feminists' anger. It's still going, but let's face it: those who watch LFL aren't following a sport - they're fans of a rather different, and less wholesome, form of entertainment…

Clash of the Codes

One of the many quirks of the game of rugby is that it's split into two very different games: Rugby Union, and Rugby League. There are different rules, different skills, and even different numbers of players. But that's not all: there are also different sets of fans, with League fans generally having little or no interest in Union, and vice versa. So it's anyone's guess why anybody ever thought back in 1996 that pitching League's all-conquering Wigan against Union's big-hitting Bath in two games - one under each code - would be a good idea.

The problem: As universally predicted, both matches ended up being tediously one-sided. Wigan thrashed Bath at Rugby League (82-6!) while Bath hammered Wigan at Rugby Union (by a less-impressive 44-19, but then again several of Wigan's best players had started out their rugby lives playing Union). The experiment was panned as nothing more than a money-spinning novelty, and the Clash of the Codes was never repeated.

PowerPlay Golf

PowerPlay Golf

Dreamt up in 2007 by legendary British amateur golf star Peter McEvoy (who came close to winning The Open and teed up at The Masters back in the 1970s), the idea of PowerPlay Golf is to add another dimension to the risk-and-reward strategy that is already the cornerstone of golf. Have two flags on each green; one straightforward one, and one very difficult one, and reward players with extra points if they go for the tougher of the two holes, and make a birdie. To add a bit of extra fun, the difficult flag doesn't have a hole number, but instead a skull and crossbones.

The problem: Only the very best players in the world are good enough to distinguish between going for an easy pin or a tough pin; normal hackers are happy enough just being anywhere near the green. McEvoy had effectively invented a game that is unplayable by 99.99% of people who enjoy golf on a regular basis. It was dead in the water inside 12 months.

Any Formula 1 season for the last ten years

The FIA's plan was always pretty clear: don't let F1 cars overtake each other willy-nilly, like they do in NASCAR. Instead, overtaking moves should be like goals in a football match: just a few, but exquisite and exciting when it happened. With that in mind, they introduced a string of new regulations - many to do with aerodynamics - which made overtaking harder.

The problem: Overtaking became more or less impossible on many circuits - including the iconic Monaco - while pit stops took on greater and greater importance. F1 is still popular, of course; but once upon a time, each race offered two hours of more-or-less guaranteed drama. Today, you're lucky to have that much in an entire season.

The Home and Away round of Question of Sport

Ian Botham, David Coleman and Bill Beaumont in Question of Sport

We could have dedicated an entire blog to the extravagant crimes of sports-related game shows on TV. But where would you start? The lifeless recent re-boot of Superstars that turned a thrilling and gutsy show into a grotesquely chummy farce? A League of Their Own convincing the world that comedians and sports stars ever belong in a TV studio together? The entire format of Bullseye? But instead we'll pick out a particular bugbear: the ridiculous round in Question of Sport where contestants elect either a question from their own sport ("Home") or another sport ("Away").

The problem: It's a sound idea in principle - offer a risk-and-reward choice - but the guest sportsmen on the show, generally unwilling to look stupid, simply never, ever, EVER took the "Away" option. And on the rare occasion that one of the captains did, the questions were then so insanely obscure (often to do with tiny sports like Shinty or Kabbadi) that answering was solely a question of chance.