New year, new rules: Rule No. 31

It's time to overhaul the notion of overtime

Updated: December 30, 2009, 11:44 AM ET
By Peter Keating | ESPN The Magazine

This story appears in the Jan. 11 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

It ain't over 'til it's over ... So then what?

In any given sport, athletes can use every last drop of their strength and speed and smarts, but if the rules of a game don't lead to a decisive result in regulation play, what happens? Overtime, of course, with all the extra effort and drama of beyond-the-last-second contests.

Sergey Ponomarev/AP ImagesChelsea lost the 2008 Champions League title on a penalty kick slip.

Why, then, with so much at stake, are the overtime rules in so many sports so terrible?

Peter Keating

ESPN Senior Writer
Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. His column, The Numbers, appears in every issue.