World Cup not alone among unusual sports tiebreakers
Japan and Senegal each finished Group H play at the World Cup with four points. They each scored and allowed four goals. When they played each other, they tied 2-2.
So how did Japan earn a date with Belgium in the round of 16, while the Lions of Teranga were sent packing? Because of FIFA Fair Play Points.
Having exhausted all previous tiebreakers, Japan and Senegal had to be separated by their conduct – a World Cup first.
Senegal finished with minus-6 points based on yellow and red cards, while Japan had just minus-4. Worse yet for Senegal, the difference was likely the pair of yellows they picked up in stoppage time in that tie against Japan.
This isn’t the only instance of an unusual method being used to break a sports deadlock. Here are some other examples.
THE OLYMPIC TIEBREAKER
The 2008 Summer Olympics baseball competition had a rule saying that if teams were tied after 10 innings, each ensuing half inning would start with runners on first and second base. Starting in the 11th inning, managers could use their lineups wherever they wanted. Baseball hasn’t been part of the Olympics since 2008.
5-7 BOWL TEAMS
The proliferation of bowl games has meant that, in recent years, teams without winning records were needed to fill all the slots. Teams at 5-7 are then chosen based on their Academic Progress Rate, or APR. It’s a convoluted formula designed to reward scholarship athletes for being academically eligible. For this season, Northwestern would be first in line for a bowl bid if it finishes 5-7 – but the Wildcats are certainly hoping APR doesn’t come into play this fall.
MLB WILD CARD
Let’s say four teams in a league all finish with the same record but don’t win their division. Unlikely? Sure – but not impossible.
According to the MLB rule book, clubs would be assigned as either A, B, C or D. Club A would host Club B and Club C would have a home game against Club D. The winners of each of those games would be declared the wild cards for that season.
THE 1974 ROSE BOWL
Ohio State and Michigan entered their 1973 regular-season finale unbeaten and looking to secure the Big Ten’s lone bowl spot in the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes and Wolverines tied at 10-all, setting the course for a decision that would fuel this rivalry. The league previously had a ”no repeat” rule in place, that would have sent Michigan to Pasadena no matter what, but that was ended after the 1971 season. Thus, the vote went to the league’s athletic directors, and they chose the Buckeyes – who smashed USC 42-21. But the mess prompted the league to allow multiple teams to play in bowl games soon thereafter.