There's a new proposal out of Baltimore for a new way to handle overtime in National Football League games. This post is about American Football, soccer has its own overtime issues we won't talk about here.
Instead of randomly choosing who gets the ball, which gives an advantage to the team on offense, the Raven's coach John Harbaugh suggests a "spot and choose" rule based on cake cutting. One team picks a starting position and the other team decides whether to be on offense or defense.
Sounds intriguing but there's a problem. In cake cutting, if you cut off a crumb, everyone would definitely choose the rest of the cake. But in football suppose the spotting team chose the offensive's team one-yard line (99 yards needed for a touchdown). For spot and choose to work the one-yard line would have to be an obvious choice for defense. But many teams might still choose starting at the one-year line on offense. There's a chance you can march down the field and if not you can always punt it away. So the team that gets to choose whether to be on offense could get an advantage no matter what the spotting team did.
I still like the idea of "spot and choose". Maybe you let the first team choose not only the yard line but what down to start. Because no one would start at their one yard line at 4th down.
Are there variations for spot and choose in other sports? I like using game theory to figure out how to play actual games.