Overtime

Anyone who watched yesterday’s wildcard playoff games saw a spectacular overtime finish in the Pittsburgh-Denver match-up. Just prior to the start of play, spectators heard the referee outline the special overtime rules that apply to a playoff series. To sum it up, each team is guaranteed one possession of the football unless 1) the initial receiving team scores a touchdown, or 2) the defense scores on the opposing team’s first possession. This, of course, reopened a long-standing debate about how overtime should be handled in professional football.

I believe overtime should be sudden death. Period.

To guarantee each team a possession under the guise of “making it fair” completely undermines the importance of the defensive squad to the team as a whole. Everyone has a job to do: the offense to score in spite of the opposing defense, the defense to prevent a score by the opposing offense. If the offense scores, the defense has failed to do its job, and vice versa.

What a guaranteed-possession overtime says is that the offense is all that really matters. Forget having a well-rounded football team. Forget the importance of the contributions made by the defense and special teams squads. The game rests on the offense.

I don’t buy it. Everyone–everyone–has a job to do. If each person contributes to the best of his ability, no matter which side of the line of scrimmage he occupies, the best team will win. If not, the best offense–or in some cases, the best defense–will win. That’s not what a team is about. That’s not what the game is about.

In works the same in business. The sales and marketing teams (offense) don’t bear sole responsibility for the success or failure of a company. They may be responsible for scoring points, er, increasing revenue, but the manufacturing and purchasing guys (defense) bear responsibility for keeping costs down in order to maintain profitability in good times and in bad. In the creative world, a graphic designer can generate a spectacular collateral concept, but he needs a top-notch printing company to make it come to life and a distribution plan to make sure people see it. Every contribution helps determine the outcome. Each one is necessary to the success of the organization.

The game works best when everyone plays.

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