What are, if they exists, any historical reason why there is not draw in the main US sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB)?

I know that draw is possible in NFL, but this events is so rare that I think is it possible to consider it a sport with "no draw"

  • 2
    The NHL had draws (ties) for the vast majority of its history; the penalty shootout is a modern change.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 8:28
  • Draws are silly IMO, I'd want a sport to do anything they could to eliminate ties. Obviously some sports such as soccer it's not always realistic, but NFL, NBA, etc, it's very easy to eliminate them.
    – New-To-IT
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 14:06
  • I think the biggest reason for football and basketball is that points are achieved relatively easily, so it typically does not take much to overcome a tying scenario. Dozens of baskets are made in a basketball game, and between field goals and touchdowns, it is usually easy enough for a football team to get points to break a tie. Baseball still leaves me searching for a solid reason
    – Trevor D
    Commented Dec 28, 2015 at 21:13
  • Why was the "sports-psychology" tag added?
    – user527
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 16:45
  • Hmm... The reason there is no draw is you are engaged in competitive sports to win, not to draw nor lose. There is draw in Korean and Japanese baseball leagues when they are tied at12th (regular season) and 15th inning (play-off) respectively, but it is no fun to watch a game draw. In order to make any sports game more exciting, draw is is the least thing that can help.
    – user10632
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


I don't think you'll find any explicit historical events or conditions that led to the absence of ties (mostly) in U.S. sports. I think it's just a product of the sports fans' sentiments that frown upon ties and draws. For most sports, it's not incredibly difficult to "untie" the game either. Since baseball is one of the most influential games in American sports history, I have a feeling that sentiment would be a little different if draws were used in the early days of play instead of extra innings.

The common perception in American is that ties are a waste of time and pointless. People like things black or white, good or bad, won or lost--ties are a shade of gray that's not very exciting, and excitement is one of the aims of sporting events. Each game is billed as a contest to determine the better team and American fans don't like inconclusive results. A lot of people see it this way--why play 2 or 3 hours to a tie when the result is basically the same as if the game was never played?

For places around the world where draws are common, there's probably a little more nuance in how to look at this. A tie could be seen as a good or bad thing depending on the teams and it's all part of a long season. But Americans are more likely to want to know right now and keep it simple: who won and who lost? "Neither" just isn't a satisfying reply.

  • I get the sentiment of your second paragraph, but is it more appropriate to consider that ties in professional American sports haven't been commonplace within the past X years rather than call it an "American" perception? An exception here is hockey in which the NHL eliminated ties within the past ten years.
    – user527
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 19:52
  • Yeah, you're right, and I'm just generalizing my perception of general perception :) Like I said, baseball was a big influence on American sports and then basketball doesn't really have a need for ties. I think this led to people embracing change away from ties in other sports; college football had ties until the early '90's and then the NHL did away with it. So now there really are hardly any ties in any of the major sports and that probably continues driving the sentiment in the same direction--ties have become unfamiliar. Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 20:00
  • 1
    Understood. Imagine you're a US sports fan today and haven't grown up with the concept that ties are commonplace...so the "perception" is common because it's the only perception to have. That's where I was coming from, and see that's where you were going with your sentiment.
    – user527
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 20:03
  • An example in which a tie would have dictated an outcome was last night's (12/28/15) NFL game where the Bengals played the Broncos. There would have been different playoff scenarios win, lose, or draw.
    – user527
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 20:04

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