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Archive for July 14, 2019

July 14, 2019 — To break a tie

In the sports world today, there were two unprecedented tiebreakers implemented in order to determine a winner after a tie.

One, in an individual pursuit, saw the Wimbledon men’s singles final determined by a tiebreaker, the vision of Jimmy Van Alen had finally come to the All-England Club after nearly 50 years. But unlike much of the rest of the world, this 12-point tiebreaker came only after Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic had played to a 12-12 game score in the fifth set.

The institution of the fifth-set tiebreaker came only after a couple of ridiculously long matches featuring U.S. player John Isner affected the scheduling of courts at the Club, including one which went 70 games to 68 in the final set in 2010.

The other tiebreaker came in a team sport, cricket. They held the final of the ICC World Cup, a competition featuring one-day international (or ODI) rules, where teams had 50 overs, or groups of six attempts, at scoring as many runs as they could by running in between two sets of stumps 22 yards apart.

In the final, England, the host nation, played upstart New Zealand. At the end of 50 overs for each team, the score was tied at 241 runs apiece. Now, I thought that perhaps the game would be decided in favor of New Zealand, since they spent only eight outs getting the same number of runs that England did in scoring theirs while expending all 10 outs.

Instead, the game went to what was called a “super over,” which saw each side getting six deliveries to score as many runs as they could. Oddly enough, the two sides each scored 15 runs off their six deliveries in each over, so the winner was determined by the number of times each team had scored either a four (hitting the ball to and over the boundary surrounding the Lord’s cricket ground), or a six (hitting the ball over the boundary on the fly). In the tiebreak, England won 26 to 17 on boundaries.

Now, I’ve seen some interesting tiebreakers implemented in sports like field hockey and lacrosse. But to me, the super over is something that shouldn’t be done just once. Instead, why not go for another super over and get a clear winner?

Or make it a really “super” over and have 10 deliveries per team rather than just six, and restrict the placement of players as in the “power play,” where teams score more runs than usual.