How to end an Olympic game

I find it interesting (not that I’m watching the Olympics or anything) that a) the Olympics can have totally different rules for a game than other forms of the sport and b) that the rules change from time to time. This is interesting because whenever I propose changes in sports rules, say to my in laws who are all sports fanatics, they scoff at me. Like the other day, I said “why not give the pitchers only three balls instead of four?” … thinking this may make the game more interesting. Or, “Why not let the fielders tackle the runner if necessary … but then give the base runner blockers. That would be cool.”

Nobody takes me seriously.

i-a6109cc9cf46c55e98ca533a356244bb-Funny_Basketball_Photos_4.jpg

But in the Olympics they have creative rule making such as I have been suggesting, and a lot of it has to do with how to end the game.

For instance:

  • In Olympic baseball, if the score is tied at the end of the 9th, a 10th inning is played. If the score remains tied, subsequent innings are played with a new batting order set for each inning, and two men on base (first and second) at the start of the inning. Wow. Maybe all baseball innings should start, by default, with three men on base. That would be interesting. The first pitch in any inning could then end the inning (with a triple play) or score four (with a grand slam). THAT would be cool./li>
  • In Olympic soccer, theyused to use a combination of overtime with sudden death followed by penalty kicks, which I think is different than regular soccer. You see, in Olympic soccer, they don’t want ties. However, this year the rules were changed so that a score in overtime (as the one I just now saw Argentina score against The Netherlands in overtime) does not end the game. Rather, overtime is divided into timed segments that must be completed.

Given this admirable flexibility allowed in Olympic sport, I’d like to suggest a few other ways to end games that are tied. Please feel free to add your ideas as well.

For soccar, I had these ideas:

  • Every five minutes, remove one member from each team without replacement. Eventually, you will be down to a goalee and one other player on that big field. That could be fun.
  • Start sudden death overtime play, and then, at a random moment not sooner than five minutes or later than 10 minutes into play (assuming there has not been a score) drop two additional balls onto the field from the roof of the stadium (or the blimp). All three balls are then in play. That should be interesting, and should end the game very quickly.
  • Have overtime played by the appropriate number of players from that country’s Olympic team, but NOT from the soccer team. So you may have the Norwegian swim team playing against the Jamacian fencing team, for instance. But playing soccer. This would certainly encourage cross-training.

For baseball, I like the current plan, but I have a few suggestions:

  • For the overtime innings, switch around the pitchers, so each team has its own pitching staff pitching to itself. This would essentially be like a home run derby. That would certainly assure the members of the audience getting a lot of free baseballs.
  • Forget the defensive team entirely. Just switch to home run derby mode.
  • Continue the game in the Water Polo arena. I know that may be tough on the Polo Ponies, but it would be interesting.

For really close calls that really can’t be authentically and believably timed (like swim matches that end with a one one hundredth of a second difference), determine who gets the win in one of the following ways:

  • Compare the human rights records of the countries involved in play.
  • Tie together the wrists of the leaders of the nations involved, give each a dagger, put them in the Water Polo arena and see who comes out alive. The team linked to the leader that does NOT survive wins.

Please write in your ideas here:

  • ____________________________
  • ____________________________
  • ____________________________

Comments

  1. #1 Coturnix
    August 17, 2008

    I think it would be fun to play waterpolo with actual ponies. In the pool (there is no such thing as a waterpolo ‘arena’).

    The sudden-death overtime has been replaced in soccer a long time ago due to crazy outcomes like this.

    But I’d love to see some of your suggestions in practice.

  2. #2 John McKay
    August 17, 2008

    Since it’s China, they could actually kill someone during sudden death overtime (probably the coach).

    Teams should be allowed to randomly replace members of the team from untrustworthy minorities with members of the majority without telling anyone.

    Second place winners should be sent to do stoop labor on a farm for twenty years.

  3. #3 Beowulff
    August 17, 2008

    It’s even worse: apparently the rules can change during a game. When the baseball match between the US and the Netherlands was interrupted for bad weather, with three Dutch runners on base, the Dutch coach was handed a note, saying that the game could be ended if the interruption would last longer than 90 minutes. This had not been in the rules that they had received before the tournament. Just weird that this is possible.

  4. #4 Steve P.
    August 18, 2008

    Tie together the wrists of the leaders of the nations involved, give each a dagger, put them in the Water Polo arena and see who comes out alive. The team linked to the leader that does NOT survive wins.

    This is biased toward the US…

    I’ve always felt that the soccer field should get smaller (say, 50-75% of its normal size) in overtime, with proportionately fewer players.

    In regular season NHL hockey, teams play 4 on 4 (normal team play is 5 on 5) for 5 minutes before going to shootout. Soccer definitely needs something like that.

  5. #5 Soren
    August 18, 2008

    Concerning soccer. It is only in the knockout part of the tournament that extra time is being used.

    The tournament is divided in two parts, a group play, and a knockput play.

    In group play each team is ranked by its standings after having met all other teams in its group. A victory gives 3 points, a tie 1, and a defeat 0.

    In olden days a win was two points, but this has been changed some years ago, to reward teams that manage to win.

    In the knockout part of the tournament, each game must have a winner, this is obvious in the phrase “knockout”. There have been different way of doing this. The way it is now is that overtime is two times 15 minutes, with a 5 minute break from the end of regular playing time to the start of extra time, but no break between the 15 minutes intervals of extra time (the teams switches sides after 15 minutes extra time).

    If there is still a tie then the teams first have 5 penalty kicks each. If there is still a tie, then they take turn with kicks until the tie is broken.

    Earlier tournament have used golden goal in the extra time, what is called “sudden death” in some other sports. The first team to score in extra time wins. Later Silver Goal was introduced, which means if a team was leading after the 1st 15 minutes of overtime they would win.

    Both golden and silver goals has been abolished, and now FIFA rules mandate the structure now used in the olympics.

    So in fact the olympic soccer tournament uses the same rules as all other FIFA tournaments.

  6. #6 NJ
    August 18, 2008

    drop two additional balls onto the field from the roof of the stadium (or the blimp). All three balls are then in play.

    MULTIBALL!!!!!

    Perhaps we need to get blernsball accepted as an Olympic sport?

    Oh, and it turns out that officials making up new rules in the middle of an Olympic game has a long and dishonorable history.

  7. #7 Sam C
    August 18, 2008

    Boreball’s at the Olympics? Oh no! Well, as the tournament has only 8 countries, it’s not surprising that the media in non-playing countries take no interest. Maybe we’ll have other variations of wave-a-stick games in the next Olympics, such as rounders or stool ball. Rounders would be good: who wouldn’t prefer to watch slim girls in gymslips rather than fat men in pyjamas?

    Unfortunately, few sports fans seem to understand that if two teams are drawn after full time (be that 90 minutes of football or 9 dreary innings of boreball), it doesn’t really matter how you choose the winner when a tie-break is required: neither team has “earned” the win. So these “it’s better than a coin toss” tiebreakers are devised to give an impression of objectivity and fairness.

  8. #8 IBY
    August 19, 2008

    Those new rules suggestions rock! :)