Sunday, September 26, 2010

Yesterday, the University of Missouri football team missed an extra point after successfully making 252 in a row, going back to 2005 (I assume this mark includes only kicked points-after-touchdown and not going for two, but I could be wrong). According to the linked article, "Missouri ended up 10 shy of the NCAA record set by Syracuse from 1978 to 1989..." A couple of points occur to me.

First, whereas Mizzou's streak involved all or parts of six seasons, Syracuse's took place during all or parts of 12 season. Apparently, the Tigers produced touchdowns a lot faster than did the Orange.

Second, an issue occasionally raised with regard to streaks is awareness on the part of individual athletes or teams that they have a long string of successful (or unsuccessful) performances going. Presumably, a team that has won 20 straight games, a baseball player who has gotten a hit in 50 consecutive games, or a basketball player who has made 70 straight free throws will know what's going on. Whether such awareness might increase the player or team's concentration, sense of pressure, or other psychological state becomes a key question.

On a streak such as made extra points, I'm not sure if the players involved even know about it. Success rates approach 100%, so the short kick through the uprights may well be taken for granted and not register in the minds of the kicker and others involved in the play (i.e., holder, snapper, linesmen). Also, long streaks of made extra points span multiple seasons, with multiple kickers involved (three for Missouri, seven for Syracuse). Any particular kicker, therefore, may only have contributed, say, 50 successful PATs to the streak, so the larger collective streak of over 250 again may not register with the current kicker. It should be noted, though, that a former Tiger kicker contributed 185 of the made PATs, out of what turned out to be the team's near-record 252. 

No comments: