Simply Unfair: The NFL OT Rules

This post has pretty much nothing to do with infosec, but rather comes on the heels of yet another Vikings OT NFC Championship loss. It's the only game I know of where so much emphasis is put on player skill and development, and yet comes down to the flip of a coin at the most crucial point of the game: Overtime (OT).

For those unfamiliar... in the NFL, and only the NFL, if the teams are even at the end of regulation, then OT commences as following: the ref flips a coin, the visitors call it, and whoever wins takes the ball, because it is immediately "sudden death" (that is, the first team to score wins). The inherent unfairness here is that 60% of the time, the winner of the coin flip scores and wins the game, most often without their opponent being given a chance to score (this is based on stats I'm too lazy to dig up a citation for). At all other levels, both teams are given a possession to attempt to score.

Some have argued that the NFL OT is fine, because the defense is given an opportunity to hold. This is completely inadequate. Not only does is belie the emphasis in the modern game on high-flying offensive schemes, but it means that half or more of your players - many of whom are paid millions of dollars - will have to sit it out. This is not how a professional game should end; marking the game down to the luck of a coin toss.

Instead, a very simple tweak could be made to level the playing field. One little clause: OT becomes sudden death only after each team has been given a possession. Such a change takes away the significance of the luck of the coin toss and instead gives both teams an equal opportunity to stop the other team while pushing through a score of their own. Nothing else has to change about the rules, nice and neat.

In terms of the Vikings, as much as I would have loved to see them go to the Super Bowl - in particular because I found the Ain'ts play to be thuggish at best - I also realize that any team that turns the ball over 5 times, and makes stupid mistakes like 12 men in the huddle or throwing an INT on the verge of being in range for a game-winning FG, does not deserve to go to the big show. Despite all the bad calls by the refs, and the remarkably unsportsmanlike behavior of the NO defense, the simple fact is that the Vikings had a win within their grasp and threw it all away. That's pathetic, and almost enough to make me give up the team and the sport. Almost. ;)

Oh, and btw, I knew before the coin toss result that the Vikings would lose. They called "tails" even though "heads" was up. According to a recent study on coin tossing, the side up typically lands up. Somebody didn't coach the captains on how to properly call the coin toss.

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This page contains a single entry by Ben Tomhave published on January 25, 2010 8:50 AM.

Non-Fiction: The 50th Law & Managing Softly was the previous entry in this blog.

BSides or Be Square: San Francisco and Austin is the next entry in this blog.

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