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
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Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
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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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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