Flipping Awful

30th January, 2009

Why the NFL should replace the overtime coin toss with an auction system.

If the Super Bowl goes into overtime for the first time ever, it’s fairly certain who will be victorious: the team that wins the coin toss. In the first round of the playoffs, the Chargers beat the Colts 23-17 in OT, marching down the field for a touchdown after winning the toss. In the 14 overtime games that produced a winner this season, the coin-toss victor won 10 of the games, more than 70 percent. Since 2002, the team that’s gotten the toss has won more than 60 percent of overtime games.

Chess faces a similar problem—it’s generally regarded as an advantage to play white. But the chess world has long had a solution: Take it in turns and play a lot of games. That’s easy for the chess guys—they have all the time in the world, and more forgiving TV schedules. College football has a similar philosophy, giving each team the ball at the opponents’ 25-yard line and alternating possessions until someone breaks the tie. But the NFL’s competition committee, which pondered the overtime problem in depth in 2003, decided to stick with the status quo of “sudden death.”

With a little ingenuity, there is a way for overtime to be both fair and fast….

Continued at Slate.

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