The Most Exciting Finishes

I’m still recovering from the devesting loss the Bruins endured in OT yesterday. It was a real gut-wrencher, and I slept a lot worse than I expected. The NHL did too, likely, since a Pens-Bruins series would have been hugely exciting . As it stands, they’re stuck with Carolina and its nine hockey fans. But oh well, sour grapes and all.

One good thing that came out of last night was my realization that NHL Overtimes are probably one of the most exiciting things in sports. Certainly, they are one of the most exciting ways to end a game. And it made me wonder why most games don’t end in such an exciting way. I mean, the formula is so simple. Play until someone scores. Obviously, sudden death doesn’t work in all sports. But why not in Soccer? Why not play golden goal for 15 minute overtime periods? Give each team an extra sub if the game goes into overtime. Then just play until there’s a winner. Penalty kicks are no way to decide a game. Why play one game for 90+ minutes, then switch to another to decide it? The only thing sillier is a penalty kick shootout in rugby. What if football games were decided by having the guards kicking field goals? I rest my case.

Not that football is any great shakes when it comes to exciting overtimes. The NFL has a pretty mediocre set of rules as well. Sudden death isn’t really sudden when it’s “inch down to the 30 yard line, kick a field goal.” Of the four major American sports, football has the worst overtime. Why not make it first team to score a touchdown? Even then, it’s not great since the team that gets the ball first has a chance to win easily. I’d make it one full quarter. 15 minutes. Whoever comes out on top wins. Why should a team with a lousy defense not have to worry about it? The NBA would be pretty good, except for the timeouts. Even the most exciting games, like in the Chicago-Boston series, become excruciating to watch as the sequence “made basket, timeout, commercial, foul, free throws, timeout, commercial” is repeated over and over again. I’d give NBA teams one timeout per overtime period. Let the teams play.

It’s interesting that my two favorite overtimes are so different. Hockey, with no timeouts and fast-paced, heart-stopping excitement, is a no-brainer. Watching Carolina and Boston fighting it out like two heavyweights in the 15th round was fantastic. Players were so tired they could barely skate, and still they forced themselves up and down the ice, knowing one mistake would cost the game. Plus, no penalties. How can it get any better. The other is Baseball, which doesn’t have overtime. Just extra innings. That’s the way to do it. Give each team a chance to win. The rules are the same as a regular game, only one run won’t necessarily win. The excitement is so much different in extra innings too. Instead of constant action, the game hinges on a discrete set of events. Each pitch is a whole ulcer in itself. There’s a quick burst of adrenaline, followed by an uneasy rest. The tension is incredible. And that tension, I think, is the key to a good overtime. If only other sports were as concerned with it.


2 Responses to “The Most Exciting Finishes”

  1. I realized this post was not for me at exactly word 14.

  2. marianne Says:

    football is the worst. games are decided on the flip of a coin. the NFL should adopte the college footballovertime structure.

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