Tuesday, 25 October 2011

This one's going to overtime

'And the game ended in a draw', the sort of comment that you'd expect to read in a soccer match report, but in the majority of North American sports it's unheard of.

For some reason many British sports fans and pundits alike can't get to grips with the idea of overtime and penalties deciding a regular season match which ends with the scores level. In fact, many a time I've heard people put sports down for using extra time and penalty shots to decide a game. If I'm honest it's something I've been guilty of in the past - but I couldn't really explain why. It's the sort of comment your dad or grandad makes and you agree without even thinking about it. Perhaps it's something in the British psyche that automatically makes us look down on anything emanating from North America. Or maybe it's just because we're a traditional bunch over here and too protective of the history of our sports and don't want them to become too 'Americanised' - though if you ask me we could learn a lot from the major sports leagues across the Atlantic, particularly in regards to finances and salary caps (something I'll write about another day).

Over here if a soccer game ends in a draw it's one point each and everyone goes home - most of the time frustrated and unhappy. So essentially a draw leads to the same feeling as a defeat, unless it's the kind of game where you've been battered for the whole match and nick an equaliser at the death. But even then if your team has managed to score a last minute leveller it could give them the momentum to go on and win in extra time. I honestly can't see a reason why extra time and penalties couldn't be introduced to league football in this country. It would certainly make the climax of drawn games more exciting judging by my first experience of a tied game in the NHL.

Perhaps the pace of hockey makes it more accommodating to a period of overtime, there was definitely an electric edge to that extra five minutes against Minnesota, which culminated in the game winning goal. The aim of sport after all is to find a winner, so why settle for drawn games if it takes away excitement. If we had more games ending in penalty shoot outs in English football our national side might actually be able to win one and get past the quarter finals of a major competition too!

Everyone's a winner (well, sort of).



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