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North American Pro Sports Overtimes, Ranked

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The answer to this question is, in fact easy:

  1. MLB/NBA/NFL (playoffs)*/NHL (playoffs)*
  2. NFL (regular season)
  3. Getting hit by a truck
  4. NCAA football/CFL
  5. NHL (regular season)
  6. Soccer

*Obviously, sudden death is not practical for NFL/NHL regular season. Ties after a 15 minute/5 minute period are fine. The idea that there’s something wrong with ties in non-elimination games is deeply weird, and using some gimmicky crap that constitutes a fundamentally different sport to arbitrarily declare a winner in order to avoid them is very bad.

Look, it’s very straightforward. In an elimination game, play the game until somebody wins. For MLB/NBA/NHL this is straightforward. For football, I think the NFL system is OK but if you want to guarantee each team a possession that’s OK with me. Just giving the team ball in field goal range is an abomination. If it’s not an elimination game, sudden death works fine in the NBA, where there’s lots of scoring, and MLB, where there’s enough scoring and the occasional long game isn’t unduly threatening to the health of the participants. For the NFL and NHL, just have ties after a limited OT period.

Admittedly, for soccer, which has very limited scoring and highly limited substitution, sudden death until someone wins may not be practical. But, if this is true and major championships have to be decided by going to Dave & Buster’s and playing the Simpsons soccer game, this is a very major flaw in the least interesting of the major North American team spectator sports.

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