13 seconds remaining in the divisional round of the 2021-2022 NFL season and Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills have Patrick Mahomes on the ropes. With a long field in front of him and facing a deficit of 3 points, Mahomes needs to drive the Kansas City Chiefs into field goal range. After a quick completion to Tyreek Hill, 8 seconds remain on the clock. Mahomes snaps the ball and quickly finds Travis Kelce who is able to run deep into Bill’s territory. The Chiefs kick the field goal, and one of the most competitive games of football in recent history is headed to overtime. Little did Josh Allen know, one single coin toss was standing between him and the field. Kansas City wins the coin toss and Allen is forced to watch from the bench as Mahomes picks apart the Buffalo defense, scores a touchdown and celebrates his fourth consecutive trip to the AFC Championship. It is after historic events like this that make the NFL community ask the age-old question: Can the NFL overtime rules be changed?

The NFL’s rules for its 15-minute overtime period in the postseason state that “both teams must have the opportunity to possess the ball once during the extra period unless the team that receives the opening kickoff scores a touchdown on its initial possession, in which case it is the winner.” However, most teams that lose the coin toss don’t ever get that opportunity. In fact, coin toss winners are 10-1, winning 90.9 percent of overtime contests in the playoffs. Furthermore, seven of the 10 winners scored the sudden-death touchdown on the opening drive, demonstrating how much influence the coin toss really has. Should a heads or tails call actually determine the ending of a game with such high stakes? Most of the NFL community doesn’t think so and demands change. However, there is a group of fans who argue that it’s just a part of the game. 

A smaller population of the NFL fan base tends to disagree with this need for change. In fact, they have one very simple suggestion to all the NFL teams that have complained about these overtime rules: Play better defense. These teams claim they don’t ever get an opportunity on the field to win the game, however, all it takes is four stops to get your quarterback and offense back on the field. While the Bills are complaining they didn’t have a fair chance to win the game, rather than blaming the coin, some believe that they need to put the blame on the defense. After all, they did let Mahomes throw for 177 yards after the 2-minute warning and lead an eight-play, 75-yard drive ending with a Travis Kelce touchdown and subsequently ending the game. 

The Buffalo Bills are certainly still hurting after this loss, however, Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs know exactly how they feel. After losing to Brady’s 2018 Patriots on the first drive of overtime, the Chiefs lobbied the NFL in an attempt to change this very rule. Their proposal mandated that both teams have an opportunity on offense, regardless of the result of the first drive. They also wanted to eliminate the second coin toss altogether and stick with the pre-kickoff coin toss to decide possession. NFL executives were hesitant to support this proposal and it was soon tabled due to a lack of support. The Buffalo Bills are definitely wishing they had supported this proposal four short years ago. Since then, the Ravens and Eagles have also made the case for altered and improved NFL overtime rules. However, it was to no avail. 

After the heartbreaking loss in 2018, Mahomes was on the right side of the rule this time and he certainly isn’t complaining. 

“Yeah I mean it worked out well for us this time,” Mahomes said to a local TV station WDAF. “Whenever you got two teams going back and forth like you’re going, it kind of stinks that you don’t get to see the other guy go, but I’ll take the win this time. Obviously, it hurt me last time. But all you can do is play the way the rules are explained and that’s what we did today.”

Teams are becoming desperate to minimize the impact of the coin toss and this has led to a few different NFL overtime proposals. Part of the fanbase wants the NFL to adopt college football overtime rules. The college football overtime rules call for a two-possession series in which each team has an opportunity to play offense and defense starting on the 25-yard line. The team that scores the most points during regulation and overtime wins the game. If the game is still tied after an overtime period, another overtime period is played. However, if the game were to go to a third overtime period, teams are required to run a two-point conversion in an attempt to end the game. This overtime format is seen to be vastly more entertaining for the fans and fairer for the players.

Another proposal looks to replace the coin toss before overtime games with field goal kicks. This proposal would have the team that lost the game’s initial coin toss decide on a certain distance for a field goal to be kicked. Then, the team that won the game’s initial coin toss would have the opportunity to decide if they would like to kick the field goal or defer. The team that ends up kicking has one chance to make the field goal and get the ball first in overtime, otherwise, the opposing team gets it. While the team that loses possession will still have to play strong defense to win the game, this proposal at least eliminates the element of chance and randomness that comes with a coin toss. Instead, it will come down to the skill and talent of the team. And isn’t that the whole point at the end of the day?

While these NFL overtime rules come into question every few years, only time will tell if the NFL is planning on inciting this necessary change. The case has been made many times now and the reasoning is quite clear, however, the NFL remains hesitant. In the meantime, the only suggestion that can be made is to play better defense or win the coin toss. So, if you were in Josh Allen’s cleats, heads, or tails?

Players love it and coaches hate it. The new NCAA transfer portal is changing college sports, especially football, at its core. It has brought a component of professional free agency to the collegiate level, thus creating an open door for tampering and completely changing the dynamic of college sports. Many coaches have said that this could be the end of college football as we know it. 

The NCAA’s recently announced one-time transfer rule allows athletes to transfer to a different school one time during their career and play immediately without getting permission from their current coach or school. Previously, athletes had to get permission from their current school and then sit out a year as a penalty for transferring. Players love the flexibility this allows after signing their initial letter of intent and the ability to move immediately one time in four years without punitive consequences. However, coaches hate everything about it. The transfer portal has created various roster management issues and other financial problems due to the recently instituted Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rule. College football is straying from its roots. It is becoming a game for personal and financial gain rather than a team sport eyeing a National Championship. And this change allows for coaches and football programs with money to have unfair, overarching control over these young athletes.

“Brutal,” an anonymous Power 5 coach said in an interview with Athlon Sports. “This rule puts every coach trying to run a clean program in an untenable situation. You’re enabling NCAA rulebreakers. You’re inviting tampering. They’ve opened Pandora’s box and are allowing players to take their ball and go home when things don’t go their way. What kind of message is that? Are we not in the business of building young men?”

Truthfully, however, this does go both ways. As for every coach that says they are in the business of “molding young men,” there is a player who watches their coach leave their program for a higher paying program. Coaches can’t expect to move freely in their jobs while forcing players into a situation where they are punished for leaving. So while the transfer portal has leveled the playing field, it is clear that money has become too intertwined with the world of college sports.

Furthermore, the transfer portal has created serious issues regarding player scholarships. Currently, programs are locked into a 25 scholarship limit per season and if one of those scholarship players transfers, that scholarship position is unable to be filled, leaving the school at a major disadvantage. Recently, coaches and NCAA executives alike have been vouching for a change to this rule. The proposal was that if a school were to lose 5 scholarship players, they would be able to add another 5 scholarship players. Most coaches believe that this needs to be done in order to close a loophole that has been created within the NCAA. If a coach were to get fired or leave a school, they could potentially bring a group of players with them, leaving the previous program gutted. The player’s perspective is that this loophole allows coaches who didn’t recruit them to push them to the transfer portal. Coaches can use roster management in conjunction with the portal to free up scholarship spots on the team. However, filling those roster spots can be quite difficult. 

“Those players are in the portal for a reason,” one anonymous Power 5 coach said in an interview with Athlon Sports. “A small minority are guys that can help you, guys that for one reason or another didn’t make it where they began. But a majority of those guys are either player’s other schools missed on, players that are just guys, those with academic problems, or those who have been in trouble off the field. We wouldn’t recruit a majority of those guys coming out of high school.”

Arguably the biggest pitfall of the new NCAA transfer portal is the recruiting violations that are now running rampant throughout the league. Coaches are recruiting off other rosters, players are leaving their schools and poaching teammates from their old rosters, and some players are even discussing transferring when shaking hands with their opponents at the end of a game. This has become an incredibly difficult thing to police, but it has been made clear that further regulations are necessary as the transfer portal grew by an astonishing 60% this first year.

“It’s a circular nightmare,” another anonymous Power 5 coach said in an interview with Athlon Sports. “They won’t trust us, we won’t trust them. There’s no common ground, no chance to take a guy who might be facing some adversity and help him through it. Now the young guys with talent and even the upperclassmen with experience are going to always have those free walking papers in their pocket.”

While there have been great transfer success stories such as Joe Burrow, Justin Fields, and Jake Coker, the new NIL rules paired with the transfer portal are completely altering the recruitment process. This shift might be geared towards player rights, but it has ultimately become an overt pay-to-play and pay-to-win model. Additionally, recruiting will no longer begin and end at the high school level. Coaches will be forced to continue to recruit players on their roster, in an effort to keep them from leaving for a starting job or a city with higher-paying NIL deals. 

While this new transfer portal rule allows for 1 free transfer without consequence, players have the option to transfer again. Approved waivers allow the athletes to transfer as many times as they would like without facing any repercussions. The number of approved waivers has skyrocketed since the NCAA’s alterations to the transfer portal. Once again, this means that the recruiting process truly never ends as teams are losing and gaining more players than ever each year, negatively impacting the team chemistry and culture. 

Ultimately, the transfer portal is giving the power back to the players. However, it has unintendedly created a pay-to-win model in the NCAA. It makes the rich richer and the elite football programs even more elite. This has completely changed the dynamics of college football. While it was once a place to build young student-athletes up, help them get an education, and attempt to win a national championship as a team, college sports are becoming further individualized every day. Now, at this point, college sports are essentially just a lucrative stepping stone for these athletes on their path to the professional leagues. The NCAA is a mess right now, but with a new draft of the NCAA constitution being released in early 2022, hopefully, new rules and regulations can improve this transfer portal situation and restore college sports, particularly football, to its fundamentals. 

Every person in sports has one thing in common: they want to win. For years, winning was determined by ownership, front offices, and coaching. Their decisions regarding which players to draft, trade, develop, and coach had a significant impact on the outlook of the franchise. Then, in 2003, everything changed.

Oakland Athletics’ General Manager, former player Billy Beane revolutionized the world of sports forever. Beane used sabermetrics to discover the secret to success in baseball and improve the often imperfect science of sports. This was the first known use of the prioritization of statistics and data to make personnel decisions in professional sports. Beane’s thought process was simple. He theorized that a team with a high on-base percentage was a team more likely to score runs and, as a result, more likely to win more games. Beane built his team around that central tendency and helped the Athletics find success. Ever since Beane’s introduction, sports analytics has not only revolutionized baseball’s modern era but professional sports as a whole.

Today, every major professional sports team has at least one analytic expert, most frequently supported by an entire analytics department. The current sports analytics market has an evaluated net worth of $774.6 million, a small price in comparison to its expected growth. Due to analytics’ profound impact on baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and most other sports, the market is expected to grow at an astronomical compound annual growth rate of 31.2% by 2025, increasing its worth to well over four and a half-billion dollars. 

This exponential growth is a result of the competitive advantage that analytics provides a team. Mathematicians record hundreds of categories of stats on each individual player, crunching those numbers in order to provide an overall assessment of the athlete’s compatibility with the team and help make the work of scouts and general managers easier. Analysts create an overall profile of a player to determine if that player is worth drafting, signing, trading for, or even cutting.

The increased popularity of data analytics has even trickled its way down to the fans. Websites like FiveThirtyEight have over 20 journalists counting and crunching numbers for fans to gain a better understanding of an upcoming game, series, or season. Additionally, they track and project player performances as well as overall win-loss records and game results. The increased accessibility that these websites provide to fans has certainly contributed to the rampant run analytics has taken throughout athletics. 

Basketball has also been heavily impacted by the widespread use of data analytics. National Basketball Association (NBA) teams now use a form of a technology called “Player Tracking” which evaluates the efficiency of a team by analyzing individual player movement, on and off the ball. Each team now uses six cameras, installed in the catwalks of arenas, to track the movements of every player on the court and the basketball 25 times per second. This data provides a plethora of statistics on speed, distance, player separation, and ball possession. However, the way in which the data is used, determines how effective it can be. The sheer volume of data that is currently collected makes decision-making difficult for NBA franchises and results in some teams better utilizing their data than others.

Besides helping teams win, data analytics also drives customer engagement. Teams are running data-driven campaigns to understand what and when fans are watching, via app logins and online video views, in order to maximize their fan engagement. Additionally, this data is used in order to improve the in-stadium gameday experience, concession sales, improve parking lot congestion, and increase the front and back-office intelligence and overall understanding of their athletes and fanbase. 

Most recently, data analytics has made its way into the National Football League (NFL) in a fascinating manner. Harvard University senior Ella Papanek is a research and strategy intern who assisted with Cleveland Brown’s analytical preparation for its 2021 AFC wild-card game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. The NFL has quickly become a data-hungry league with websites like Pro Football Focus and Pro Football Reference popularizing the globalization of analytics. Papanek developed a player projection model for Cleveland’s analytics team to assess and plan for the upcoming game accordingly. Papanek is indicative of the ever-expanding market of data analytics and the countless job opportunities developing in the field.

While Billy Beane thought he was just going to turn around an abysmal Oakland Athletics team, he instead revolutionized sports forever. Data analytics has become an integral part of all major sports and provides coaches, general managers, and other stakeholders with a competitive advantage in predicting outcomes and assessing individual player performances. Professional sports have just recently scratched the surface of data analytics and the opportunities and benefits that will one day amount from it are endless.


On May 14th, 2018, the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, thus providing each state the decision and opportunity to legalize sports betting. This decision has revolutionized the sports gambling world, propelling the betting industry into an incredibly lucrative market space. As the rate of sports gambling continues to increase exponentially in the United States, the industry’s future remains bright. But what will the lasting impact of the wide legalization of sports betting be?

Aiming to profit from the newly legal industry, 25 states and Washington D.C. have chosen to legalize sports betting and 80% of the other states are expected to do the same in the next few years. Since then, over $20 billion in bets have been placed (ESPN). In 2020, U.S. sports betting generated one billion dollars in revenue, and that number is expected to grow sixfold by 2023 (Forbes). If betting is legalized by all 50 states, the estimated revenue would exceed $19 billion a year. 

Many companies and organizations are attempting to capitalize on this rapidly expanding industry. This includes major sports leagues in the U.S. such as the MLB, NBA, and NFL. These leagues have come to understand how strong and dedicated the sports betting demographic can be and they have chosen to support that fanbase. Scott Kaufman-Ross, the NBA’s senior vice president and head of fantasy and gaming, explains the matter.

“We want to meet the fans wherever they are and so, if [betting is] how they’re choosing to engage, we want to support that,” Kaufman-Ross said. “We’ve seen the data that shows people who play fantasy sports, people who bet on sports, they are some of our most engaged fans. They consume more content than traditional fans – they watch more games and for longer periods of time.”

Partnerships between leagues, teams, and betting platforms have also exploded in popularity in recent years. The MLB’s Chicago Cubs just inked a $100 million deal with DraftKings and the NBA has secured deals with Genius Sports Group (GSG) and Sportradar. Many other organizations are following in their footsteps, with the hopes of benefitting the leagues, teams, fans, and other companies.

“The wealth of data around US sports is impressive and the customers’ appetite is massive,” Kaufman-Ross said. “That translates in fantasy-type games being hugely popular but also, from a sports betting perspective, it’s showing a higher propensity of data-driven player propositions. The leagues have made a big step towards providing real-time data to licensed league operators and that is the basis of a partnership that can be successful for both leagues and operators while delivering a better experience for the fans and customers.”

In this past Super Bowl, over 23 million Americans reported plans to bet a total of $4.3 billion (Forbes). 7.6 million of those bets were placed online, up 63% from the previous year. Due to technology’s constant accessibility, online gambling is becoming the most popular medium. An increase in gambling addictions has come with this change.

After reviewing over 140 studies and reports related to sports gambling and addiction, the National Council on Problem Gaming (NCPG) offered a statement. “Recent research suggests that gambling problems may increase as sports gambling grows explosively at the same time that mobile and online technologies evolve to create seemingly unlimited types of wagering opportunities.” Additionally, the NCPG found that sports bettors have at least two times higher rates of addiction than other gamblers, and these rates of addiction increase in an online format. This is because online gambling provides increased convenience and privacy. 

Online sports betting has also made it easier for minors to get addicted to gambling. Many minors are able to illegally create accounts and begin betting from a young age. A recent study found that 75% more students are gambling now than in 2015, but many people are now working to counteract this growing movement. Moving forward, organizations such as the NCPG are working to research the dangers of gambling addictions and educate the public. Additionally, they are aiming to prohibit TV advertisements for sports betting and to enact stricter laws/regulations surrounding the topic. If the industry is able to reduce the amount of underage gambling as well as addiction, then the future will remain increasingly bright and astronomically lucrative. Sports betting truly is sweeping its way through the nation. So, with that being said, in one of the biggest games of the year, Alabama +3 or Georgia -3? You heard it here first: Roll Tide!