It’s a very rare occurrence, but occasionally sporting events can end in a dead heat. It’s basically a tie where two or more of the participants simply cannot be separated by typical methods.
1. Dead Heats in Races
Think about things like horse races, where sometimes two or more of the horses cross the finishing line at exactly the same time. That leads to a photo finish, where video replays are watched in super slow-motion and static images viewed to determine if a winner can be found. If the two or more horses cannot be distinguished using this method, a dead heat is declared and so both, technically, are the winner. But the reality is that fewer and fewer dead heats are called in horse racing these days because the technology used is getting better, more accurate and more widely available. Video tech and pressure-sensitive digital timers are now used to minimise the risk of a dead heat being called.In the vast majority of ‘races’ you can see a dead heat, from swimming and sprints to the car racing sports. There has never been a dead heat in the Formula One, however, although the US Grand Prix in 2002 nearly required such measures when Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher appeared to cross the finishing line simultaneously. However, replays showed that Barrichello had won by just 0.011 seconds.
2. Dead Heats in Leagues
You can also see a dead heat in league tables where two or more teams cannot be separated using traditional methods. So, the team with the most points will win a league, but if that tally is level then the competitors can be ranked using things like goal difference, goals for, total wins, head-to-head records and so on. But if these methods – as dictated by that particular sport and governing body – are not able to decide who wins and who finishes second, then again a dead heat is declared. Amazingly, the Premier League could have finished as a dead heat if a bizarre set of circumstances had unfolded on the final day of the season. Manchester City led Liverpool by one point heading into that final round of fixtures, and so it was possible that the two teams would finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored; the three separators that the Premier League uses. Man City travelled to Brighton, while Liverpool entertained Brighton at Anfield. If ANY of these scenarios had unfolded, then a play-off match between the sides at a neutral venue would have been needed:
Manchester City lose 4-0, while Liverpool draw 4-4
Manchester City lose 5-1, while Liverpool draw 5-5
Manchester City lose 6-2, while Liverpool draw 6-6
In the end, City won 4-1 so the dead heat rules were not required!