By Ken Reed
As John McEnroe was wont to say, “You can’t be serious!”
Sunday’s Chiefs vs. Bills NFL playoff game was the best football game I’ve ever seen.
That is, until it was decided by the referee’s toss of a coin before the overtime session.
Hey NFL pooh-bahs, how can you create an overtime session in which both teams don’t get a shot at the ball?
The essence of sports competition is trying to create a fair playing field. The NFL OT rule doesn’t provide a fair playing field. Each team — especially in the win-or-go-home-playoffs — deserves a shot with the ball. Deciding playoff games by coin tosses is crackbrained. The college overtime rule might not be perfect but it’s much better than the NFL rule.
To make the NFL OT rule even more head-scratching, the league’s braintrust decided to give the team that lost the coin toss a chance with the ball if the opposing team only scores a field goal, but not if they score a touchdown. Say what?!
What sense does it make to say to the team that loses the coin toss, “Hey, if the other team scores a field goal on its first possession, we’ll give you guys a chance to score. But if the other team scores a touchdown we won’t give you a chance.”
The bottom line is, the current NFL overtime rules make the coin flip to start the overtime a major factor in determining the game’s outcome. And that should never be the case.
In a game of amazing big plays, the biggest might have been the Chiefs winning the coin flip to start the overtime period.
But it’s a simple solution: Each team should get a chance to have the ball so a coin flip doesn’t impact the outcome.
Kudos to the Chiefs and Bills for a superlative effort and for providing an example of sports competition at its best.
And shame on the NFL league office for creating such a strange and unfair overtime rule.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman, and has a long involvement with the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport (now called the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition). We discuss the state of college athletics today, given the pressures of NIL, the transfer portal, sports gambling and huge media contracts. McMillen then provides great perspective on the poor state of physical fitness our young people are experiencing today.
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Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon