Shootouts in hockey, walk-off home runs in baseball and buzzer beaters in basketball all instantly come to mind as some of the best moments in sports. The American football “tie,” however, falls near the bottom of the pile as one the most frustrating moments in sports.
A football game ending in a tie is the antithesis of American sports culture.
This issue comes to the forefront of sports news this week after two games in two weeks have embarrassingly ended in ties; most recently on Sunday Sept. 16 when the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings ended their game knotted up at 29-29.
Since 1974, when the National Football League introduced overtime, there have only been 24 ties and no season has ever had to suffer through more than two. Now, the 2018-19 NFL season has already matched that total. If at least one of the next 224 NFL games this season cannot be decided in 70 minutes, it may be time for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to rewrite the rulebook.
No one likes ties. NFL players train all week and it is deflating for their hard work to be rewarded with an indecisive outcome. Fans pay around $100 to watch these games live, and they feel their hard-earned money is wasted when they walk out of the stadium without seeing a team win.
This internal conflict creates an undue mental burden on even the casual fan. As a result, fans of the game will have to deal with an unsightly “1” unnecessarily tacked onto the end of their team’s win-loss record.
When the playoffs draw closer, those ties will further complicate the labyrinth of December football. Teams vying for a playoff berth will need to decipher impossible playoff scenarios, made even more confusing because of the NFL’s incompetency in settling football games decisively.
The tie’s negative implications antagonize fans and players. Some of the game’s most accomplished players, however, do not even know that ties exist.
In 2008, an Eagles-Bengals game on Nov. 16 ended in a tie.
During the postgame interview, Eagles’ quarterback Donovan McNabb confessed to reporters that he had never been involved in a tie or knew it was in the rules, according to ESPN. If a player doesn’t feel the need to learn that ties exist in football, the NFL should get rid of them.
If the NFL eventually becomes enlightened and removes the pitiful tie from their rulebook, what will happen if games are not decided during regulation? Perhaps they can borrow from NCAA football.
College football games that go to overtime are decided by a “shootout” where both teams take turns scoring from their opponents’ 25-yard line. They trade blows until one team kicks a field goal and holds their opponent from scoring, or they score a touchdown and earn the definite win.
Other options are for teams to play without a game clock until one team scores a touchdown or a field goal and stops their opponent from doing the same. Both scenarios are better than a tie, and the “shootout” option is already a successful solution in college games.
On the whole, ties are a nuisance and there are many solutions to fix this indecisive, blasphemous, embarrassing problem.
From the American Revolution to World War II, the United States has celebrated victories and they certainly would never celebrate any ties, which makes this rule so confusing.
The system needs to change next season. Fans celebrate winners and pity the losers; there is nothing left in between for anyone who ties.