Yesterday I saw the last part of the UEFA cup final and I was reminded what I like and don’t like about the various sports entertainment industries. Here was one of the most important final games in the season (I’m guessing, from the reaction to the victory in Liverpool) that was tied up at the end of regulation. Now this should make it exciting, right? Here are two teams that have been putting forth all their effort in ball control and offense and defense and headers or whatever the hell it is they do in soccer. So, now that they’re at the end of regulation (and I guess, some number of periods of overtime), how do they decide the outcome of the best team in Europe, or whatever it’s supposed to be? A shootout. As you know, each team alternates in trying a free kick - one person against the goalie, up to five chances. Winning a shootout, though, has almost nothing to do with football skills, as it is pure chance. Basically, the goalie guesses right or left, and if he’s right he’ll stop it, if not, it goes in. They might as well just flip a coin five times. It would really bother me if I was on a team that played its heart out all year, excelling at all the skills of my game and getting to the penultimate game, only to have the championship decided by some completely different (and in this case, random) skillset.
Relatedly, I don’t like the way college football does overtime - you don’t play the rest of the game starting out at the opponent’s 25 yard line, why change the rules in overtime? Also, basketball games that get somewhat close at the end also change the way the games, although it’s not so formal - it becomes a game of fouling and free throws instead of basketball skills. (I think basketball should change so that in the last minute of play, on any foul the team who gets fouled should keep the ball. Enough of this foul to stop the clock nonsense).
So the sports that do it right: baseball, NFL football, and IMHO the sport that does it best: playoff NHL hockey. So why should anybody care about this? They don’t, I just felt like writing this. That’s what these weblog things are for.