Sunday, March 28, 2010

Overtime and the Saints

Some Saints, including Jonathan Vilma and Sean Payton, are complaining that the NFL changed its playoff overtime rule. Vilma in particular thinks it is a show of disrespect to the Saints.

For Minnesota Viking fans still not over the NFC Championship game (would that be all of us?), there is a lot to be annoyed with in some of those comments (especially those fans still upset by some of the officiating shenanigoats of overtime). I'd rather not do a line by line deconstruction, but I will make two points.

1. NFL overtime rules are unfair. Don Banks of Sports Illustrated notes: "59.8 percent of the games since 1994 -- when kickoffs were moved back to the 30-yard line -- were won by the team winning the overtime coin toss." Rules of a competitive game are supposed to be fair to each team. If you have a rule that gives one team a 59.8% chance of beating the other team based on a random event, that's not a fair rule in a competitive game. Within the rules of the game and the lines of the field, each team in a competition is supposed to have a fair chance at winning. A sudden death overtime with a coin toss does not do that. Is there any other such rule that fundamentally sways the competitive fairness of a game? Homefield advantage might (especially when loud fans affect playcalling), but there are rules attempting to make that advantage fair (everybody gets the same number of home and away games in the season--with rare exceptions--and teams earn homefield advantage in playoff games by achieving certain standards), and the rules of the game itself don't distinguish between home and away teams (except to determine who gets to guess at the random coin toss--in that sense it's the Vikings' fault because they guessed the random occurrence wrong). Let's be clear here: a team that loses the coin toss only wins the game 40.2% of the time. If two teams have played even for 60 minutes, does it make competitive sense that a particular rule would reduce one team's chance of winning the game down to 40.2%?

2. After the Trojan War, do you think the Greeks said things like "This is a real slap in the face. It's like people think we never would have won that war if we hadn't snuck in with that big wooden horse"? The New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl! They vanquished everybody! Everybody is acknowledging that! Everybody is praising them for that! If they feel that they need reminding, they can go look at their Lombardi Trophy. If they feel people disrespecting them, they'll have Super Bowl rings to flash at them. Has the "Nobody believed in us" trope reached its absurd conclusion when less that two months after the Super Bowl the Super Bowl champ can make claims that they are being disrespected? They won the Super Bowl: nobody can deny that and nobody can take that away from them. Isn't winning the championship the point? Isn't that what makes you immune to those that hate, disrespect, or diminish you? When you win a championship, should you even care about those that would hate, disrespect, or diminish you? Do you really want to complain that people aren't acknowledging you as the legitimate champion enough? Isn't celebrating your victory, celebrating your championship, celebrating your defeat of everybody else, enough?

1 comment:

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