The rise of the idea that field goals and extra points are too easy to make has been one of the more interesting trends of the 2013 NFL season.
SI’s Peter King wrote that kickers had become too good at field goals, and called the extra point “the biggest waste of time in sports.”
The anti-extra point argument is simple: extra points are boring because kickers almost always make them, which isn’t how it used to be.
It’s a modern, fairly new phenomenon. We’ve seen the rules of different sports evolve to combat strategic loopholes (the 24-second clock in basketball was used to kill the “four corners” offence, etc.). But this extra point thing — the theory that rules must be changed to combat mastery of a particular part of a game by professionals — is different.
The professionalization of sports has over-increased quality. Modern players are too good for the old rules.
Bill Belichick voiced this sentiment in his press conference yesterday, saying:
“I would be in favour of not seeing [extra points] be an over 99 per cent conversion rate. It’s virtually automatic. That’s just not the way the extra point was put into the game. It was an extra point that you actually had to execute and it was executed by players who were not specialists, they were position players. It was a lot harder for them to do. The Gino Cappellettis of the world and so forth and they were very good. It’s not like it is now where it’s well over 99 per cent. I don’t think that’s really a very exciting play because it’s so automatic.”
Belichick is right, of course. Extra points are boring.
But this is a real problem.
Do you change a fundamental part of the game across all levels just because the very best players in the world have achieved mastery?
The extra point is a meaningful part of the game for college, high school, and peewee players. It’s also historically significant since it links American football with its rugby roots. Eliminating it would make the NFL more exciting, but it would have broader repercussions for the sport.
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