Sidelines: Cutting Ties: The Draw In Professional Sports

Drew Friedman ‘16 and Mike Morgan ‘16

Collaborative Writers

Photo Courtesy Msuspartans.com
Photo Courtesy Msuspartans.com

With the score tied and overtime winding down in a regular season game between the Eagles and the Bengals, players on both teams geared up for a second period of overtime action. When the clock struck zero and the refs blew their whistles, many players, coaches, and fans were caught by surprise. A three-letter word appeared on the scoreboard:

Tie.

Donovan McNabb, the quarterback of the Eagles during this 2008 matchup, seemed as in awe as the rest of the stadium.

“I never even knew that was in the rulebook,” McNabb said at the press conference following the game.

Just three weeks ago, the Cincinnati Bengals squared off against the Carolina Panthers in a game that ended in a 37-37 deadlock. Cincinnati kicker Mike Nugent missed a 36-yard field goal as time expired in overtime, leaving the fans from both sides in a limbo of emotions.

In major American sports, ties are virtually unheard of. Though possible in the NFL, there have been just 20 ties since the merger. After the NHL Lockout in 2004-2005, the NHL eliminated ties and added the penalty shootout. However in European soccer, draws are extremely common in regular season play, and teams will sometimes record two or three ties in a row.

The typical American sports fan is action-crazed. He lives for the last second or overtime winner. So this poses the question, is there room for the tie in American sports, or is it time to eliminate it from major professional sports?

Mike Morgan: This should not happen. Plain and simple. These NFL players put their bodies on the line for 75 minutes of play in these games. The fans pay top dollar to be able to attend these games. Going home neither a winner nor a loser is unfair to these parties. What does the coach even say to his team after a game like that? There’s a reason the NHL did away with ties, and the NFL should follow suit. Of course, ties do not exist in the NFL playoffs–there is just a second overtime. Why can’t this happen in the regular season? After all, there have only been 20 NFL games since the merger that would have come to this anyway.

Drew Friedman: Ties should never have been created. It is a lazy way out of an amazing game. Ties occur when two teams come down to the wire, just when fans get most excited about the possible outcome, and then steal all the hype away in one swift swoop. There are many variables that result in justifying a tie rule, like preventing injuries or financial costs of extending a game, but none of these overrule the true horror fans encounter when their team gives its all to result in neither a win or a loss. The fans might as well be watching pop warner, with the whistle blowing and the kids being too young to realize what a win and a loss even mean. While some sports have attempted to integrate exciting finishes, like shootouts and penalty kicks, these are only pardoned by the respective leagues for the playoffs.

Mike Morgan: As a Panther fan that watched them record a tie a few weeks ago, it truly is a mix of emotions as a sports fan. While I was thrilled that they avoided getting slapped with a loss, I couldn’t bring myself to become too excited when the field goal sailed wide right. I knew something was missing. When watching soccer, you sometimes expect, and even hope for a tie if your team is the underdog. But in the NFL, it doesn’t even come to mind. It frustrates me that ties exist in the NFL rulebook when there are plenty of easy alternatives to ending a game in a stalemate. All it might take for a change is one more tie this season. Maybe then the NFL will decide enough is enough.

Drew Friedman: Ties will always be a topic of discussion, but until the day that ties become so prevalent that it actually impacts a playoff race, nothing will be changed. And even then other variables might come into question. Regardless of the sport, reforms won’t come to fruition until a substitute fulfills are the requirements of each individual league. Unfortunately, these leagues are most focused on increasing financial standing, and therefore against a change anytime soon.

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