Adults fumble responsibilities when overtime is denied

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Fans, coaches, and players were upset last Thursday night when the officiating crew of the Berryville-Prairie Grove junior high football game declined to let the teams play an overtime format after regulation ended in a 20-20 tie.

Both coaches and the kids were ready to go, but the officials said if it wasn't required by league rules, they weren't going to do it ---- and they didn't.

At the same time, in Gravette, the Green Forest Junior Tigers had played the Lions to a 12-12 tie, and they did play an overtime ---- two, in fact.

Now, before all you Bobcat fans go ballistic, here's the little bit I know.

Seems like the Arkansas Activities Association, which supervises league sports, kinda discourages junior high teams from playing overtimes ---- UNLESS it is required by the league the teams are playing in.

No league rule, no overtime required. BUT, officials can choose to let the teams play if they want to. Good judgment is required, as in:

  • What are the field conditions? (rain, snow, mud);

  • Do the teams seem worn out?

  • Do both coaches want to play, or is one happy to escape with a tie?

  • And, will the extra time played pose a danger to the young athletes that will do the hitting and running?

    Well, first, let's see what an overtime consists of, okay?

    Each team gets the ball on the 10-yard line and a chance to score. You can't make a first down, so you just have four chances.

    In the Green Forest overtime, both teams scored in the first overtime, and both failed on the extra point try, leaving it tied at 18. In the second overtime, the Junior Tigers decided to go on defense first, and Gravette scored, AND made a 2-point conversion.

    Green Forest got their turn, scored, but saw a tie go out the window when their ball carrier was knocked out of bounds a yard short of the end zone on the PAT attempt.

    Hummm. How long do four plays take? Depends on if the coaches have any time-outs left. But it isn't very long. To put it in perspective, both teams got to run a possible 10 plays each before this one was settled.

    And that was the issue last Thursday night in Berryville. The issue wasn't settled, and won't be, as far as the 1AAA junior high conference race is concerned.

    Berryville was in second place with one loss. If the other leaders in 1AAA also wind up at the end of the season with a loss, then Berryville will be out of the running due to the tie.

    Worse, there will be no bragging rights next year when the two teams hook up again. They'll look at each other and both will say, "We could have won that one if the adults had let us play an overtime."

    To heck with that. My vote is to let the kids settle their games on the field, that evening, in overtime, if needed.

    The 1AAA conference will have to address this issue before next season, as it is patently ridiculous to have two teams play out an overtime, while two others are denied the opportunity.

    An out-of-town officiating crew should not determine the history of a particular team on the spur of a moment. That should be decided, in advance, by the league members.

    Sorry, kids. The adults fumbled this one.

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