It's better than tying

faceoff: should soccer and field hockey championships be decided by shootouts?

November 06, 2008|By KATHERINE DUNN

Imagine your team has a great season. You make it to the state final. The game is fantastic. It's a nail-biter. It goes into overtime. It's all so exciting. Until - it ends in a tie.

How do you feel now? Many high school athletes didn't know what to feel when their field hockey or soccer championships ended in ties. They didn't feel like winners because they didn't win.

Now, thanks to shootouts, somebody always wins, and that's the way it should be.

There are no more ties, no more co-champs in field hockey and soccer in the state finals or the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland and the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association tournament finals. Those leagues now use shootouts to determine a winner. Sure, it would be nice to play until somebody scores, but there usually isn't enough time in sports that are so low-scoring.

The argument against shootouts - penalty kicks in soccer and penalty strokes in field hockey - is that they put too much pressure on the goalies, but most goalies I've talked with would accept that because they want the chance to win. In 2001, there were eight ties in state, IAAM and MIAA soccer and field hockey finals. I asked a number of those goalies whether they would rather go to a shootout or accept the tie. Most wanted to shoot it out.

Sure, it's a lot of pressure, but is it any more pressure than that placed on a single player in other sports? What about the field-goal kicker in overtime, the pitcher with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th or the basketball player on the free-throw line with one second to go?

You have to have a chance to win the big game. Sure that means somebody loses, but that's part of sports. Of course, it's just a game and winning isn't everything, but tying really isn't anything.

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