Over the weekend, six scholastic field hockey teams met in Westhersfield, Conn. to play for three Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference state titles.
Problem is, five walked away with state championships. What happened? All you had to do is read the rules for the playoffs:
“If neither team scores during overtime, co-champions will be declared.”
Friends, those are the four most dreaded words in field hockey. The CIAC is one of a dwindling handful of sanctioning bodies which refuse to break ties at the end of regulation and overtime for a state championship field hockey game.
On Saturday, Darien (Conn.) and Westport Staples (Conn.) went goalless throughout their Class L final, and Haddam-Killingworth (Conn.) and Westbrook drew the Class S title match 1-1.
Those represent the 12th and 13th co-championship in Connecticut since 1985. That’s about one every other year. And it’s far too many.
I’ve never liked it when games end in draws. It’s not because of anything cultural, or that people who don’t want to have a state championship final decided in a tiebreaker are any less wise than those who do. Instead, it’s from flawed reasoning that female athletes are somehow more fragile than their male counterparts.
Too, there used to be some hare-brained schemes that masqueraded as tie-breakers at the dawn of Title IX. At one time, the number of penalty corners generated by one team or the other was the tiebreaker. During the 1970s, there was a tiebreaker called “circle penetration time,” where a third official would have two clocks at the scorer’s table to time how long one team or the other had possession inside the other circle. That is, until more than one report of officials forgetting to switch team clocks at halftime.
More sentiment against tiebreakers was generated when some states and colleges had played extraordinary amounts of overtime without a tiebreaker, and administrators worried about players getting injured from continuing in field play.
It’s my belief that a tiebreaker — penalty strokes, the FIH penalty shootout, or alternating penalty corners — remove the arbitrary standards put in place by some of the people who have ruined high-school sports in this country.
After all, what’s good in the rest of the playoffs should be good enough for the final round. There shouldn’t be a tie for a state title.