Please, Put an End to This

Posted/updated on: July 19, 2011 at 8:57 am   Print This Print This

Sunday afternoon, the USA Women’s National team lost a heart breaker to Japan, 3-1 (2-2) on penalty kicks.

Penalty kicks? Yep, penalty kicks. If you follow soccer as much as I do (not much) you probably question the wording of “penalty kicks”. I mean, there is no actual penalty, but that’s what it’s called. Team USA is lined up 12-yards from the goal, Japan puts a goal-tender out there who is required to hold her position until the ball is contacted and basically a two-hour match is reduced to a shoot-out that is called penalty kicks.

This was a great soccer match, game, ugh..whatever they call them, as far as I could tell. The match remained scoreless until youngster Abby Morgan raced past defenders to score in the 69th minute.
The lead didn’t last long as Japan answered on a botched clear by the American team in the 80th minute, which forced soccer’s version of overtime.

Overtime, that’s where I want to focus this post. The teams played two 45-minute halves during regulation, then extra time (only in soccer). Remaining tied (1-1) after regulation, the teams played two 15-minute overtime periods. It’s important to understand, because there is no “golden goal” in soccer, the two extra periods would be played in their entirety. In other words, this is not the NFL’s version of overtime which is “sudden death”, first one to score wins.

The US team scored first in the overtime period, but again Japan answered to re-tie the game on an AMAZING corner kick goal. As the second 15-minute period expired, I think everyone was disappointed. A match they had been glued to was about to be decided artificially.

Even though, in this circumstance my favorite team, US Women, lost I’m still in favor of overtime that offers both teams a chance to score and come back. I’m not in favor of sudden death, at any point in the season, and I don’t like the NFL’s version of it, if I were.

You know your overtime rules are not right as a league if you have one set of rules for the regular season and a different set for the playoffs. It’s just a matter of which is worse.

For time (and most importantly TV’s) sake, a match must be decided as efficiently as possible, but you can’t tell me a two-hour (2-45 minute halves and two 15-minute periods) match should be decided by penalty kicks. It takes the tension and excitement and thrill right out of the match and calms things down…that’s NOT the way a World Cup match should end.

For the record, I think baseball and basketball do OT best, simply because they continue to play by normal rules. Hockey plays by two sets of rules, but I’m fine with a sudden death shootout there because the sport, much like basketball, is not as “possession driven” as football. Soccer, extra time is fine, although I don’t like “golden goals” there. However, I HATE penalty kicks as a solution. If nothing else, use corner kicks. Those are the most exciting part of the match anyway.
NFL, it’s sudden death during the regular season and then a one-year old adjustment that is literally seven pages long in the playoffs. Wow! Is it really that difficult?

Staying in football, college and high school overtime rules are just dreadful. It’s the equivalent to baseballs “international tie-breaker” which gives each team an artificial chance to score. Runner on second, two outs and batter up. If first team scores, second team must score to re-tie the game.

I’ll leave it on this….deciding the World Cup on penalty kicks would be equivalent to deciding the super bowl after a tie on a field goal kicking contest…which, although I think could be exciting is NOT the way to end the Super Bowl.

At some point, enough is enough…just decide the thing and let me move on….right?


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