Tuesday, July 31, 2007

No More Ties!

When I read a book or watch a movie or TV show, the one thing I absolutely can't stand is an unresolved ending (Yes, HBO and the Sopranos, I'm talking about you!). I want some sense of finality and closure, some certainty of knowing what happened in the end. Zack and Kelly getting married in Las Vegas was the appropriate ending to a series that I basically grew up watching in Saved by the Bell. In truth though, I wouldn't have even cared if they didn't get married just as long as there was some other concrete conclusion. I don't want to be left asking "what if"?

I'm an avid fan of the NHL and of ice hockey in general. After the lockout year of 2004-2005, Commissioner Gary Bettman and the Board of Govenors needed to do something drastic to bring fans back to the sport. Aside from the various rule changes to showcase the individual player's skills, they implemented something that, in my opinion, is the best thing hockey has done in modern history. Having a shootout after overtime ensures that every game has a winner, ensures that the fans who come to the arena every night will walk away knowing that one team skated off with the 2 points that comes with a win in the NHL. No more boring overtime games which usually ended in ties because both teams played like they were afraid to lose instead of playing to win, and so what ensued was 5 minutes of the sloppiest, ugliest hockey imaginable. Shootouts bring every single fan in the arena to stand up, and those who have watched the NHL over the last two seasons know what I mean when I say that the energy level and excitement in the building when the shootout takes place is unlike anything else seen in sports.

I did some research on the 2006-2007 Premiership season, and what I found was startling. 98 games out of 380 resulted in draws, or 26% of the entire total of league games played last year. Just by going from that stat, a fan who comes to an individual game has a 1 in 4 chance of seeing a tie! That's outrageous! Aston Villa had 17 draws last season out of 38 games, nearly 50%! Ticket prices are rising rapidly for these games and the new stadiums that are being built are funded largely by consumer money. Fans don't want to see these sleep-inducing 0-0 or 1-1 ties. They want to get their money's worth when they come to a game because God knows how much money they're spending to attend. It gets to the point where you listen to radio call-in shows or talk shows and the hosts actually predict ties for games instead of a winner. I don't want to see a tie! That's no way to end a game, because neither team is happy with the result and more importantly, the fans are left unsatisfied. Every effort should be made to decrease the percentage of draws because they're not what brings excitement and passion to a game that is all about those things, especially in England. Here, then, are two proposals I came up with to move away from ties and come out of games with a winner:

• 1. Play 15 minutes of 8 v 8 (7 field players and 1 goalie per team) if the game is tied after 90 minutes of regulation. Golden goal, winner gets 3 points, loser gets 1. If a consensus is reached that the losing team shouldn’t be rewarded, the loser could get 0 points, but in my opinion, the loser should get 1 for taking the game into extra time and because 8 v 8 isn’t traditional soccer. If the game is still tied, go to penalty kicks (see my proposal for PK’s below).

• 2. Go straight to penalty kicks if the game is tied after 90 minutes. 5 rounds, winner gets 2 points, loser gets 1. The loser has to get a point because penalty kicks are a crapshoot, and the winner can’t get the full 3 points for the same reason.

If a system was in place to reward the winner of a game that goes longer than 90 minutes, I guarantee you'd see more exciting soccer because both teams would be after the extra points. No more situations where teams play it safe to just get 1 point out of a game because both teams would surely go for the full points if they were guaranteed that 1 point for extending the game past 90 minutes. Hypothetically, let's say that out of Aston Villa's 17 draws last season, they would've won 8 of those games in the proposed 8 v 8 extra time. That's 16 points more and maybe a UEFA Cup spot, provided the teams above them didn't get as many points from their extra time games. Obviously, these proposals would cause a point inflation in the table and it'd be realistic for the champion to have over 100 points. But it's all relative; people would just get used to seeing higher point totals for teams.

I'm very interested in hearing your feedback about this, so leave some comments or e-mail me about what you think. I'm open to any other suggestions to decide games and to your arguments for keeping ties.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Long time hockey fan who agrees with your assessment. Well put.