Do you like to play tic-tac-toe? When you're younger, it can be so much fun to place those X's and O's so carefully. As you learn the game, you win some and you lose some.

Before long, though, you probably notice that it's fairly easy to get to a point where you and your opponent reach a stalemate over and over. With experienced players, ties in tic-tac-toe are quite common.

If you're like some people, you might call a tie in tic-tac-toe a “cat." Have you ever done that? If so, have you ever WONDERed why you call it that?

No one really knows for sure. But there are many theories out there. Some people claim a tie in tic-tac-toe is called a “cat" because “tac" spelled backwards is “cat." But couldn't a tie just as easily be called a “cit" or an “eot"?

Others claim it's because a tie is sometimes called a “scratch" game, and cats are known for scratching, of course. Still others believe the nickname “cat" comes from the fact that a cat will chase its tail — and never catch it — yet it still has fun, kind of like you can play tic tac toe over and over again and have lots of fun even if all the games are ties.

Ties are a natural part of a game like tic-tac-toe. There are only nine boxes to fill in. If no one gets three in a row, it's a tie. Pure and simple!

However, ties — often called draws — can be a part of many other types of sports. For example, arguably the most popular sport around the world — soccer — features draws on a regular basis. Unless a game is part of a playoff scenario, most regular season matches are allowed to end in a draw.

This does not always sit well with fans. Many avid sports fans do not like to see ties. They want to see one team emerge from a game victorious, even if extra time must be played.

Some sports, such as hockey, have even gone to a shootout system to declare a winner if the score remains tied even after an extra time period is played. In a shootout, players alternate taking shots on goal until a winner is determined by the game's rules.

What do you think? Should ties be allowed? Or should all sports put rules in place to prevent ties and ensure that there's a winner in every game.

Some argue that ties are fine. If two teams are evenly-matched and play a hard-fought game, why shouldn't they be allowed to tie? Why must there be a winner? If you insist on a winner, that means there must also be a loser. Does there always have to be a loser in every game?

What about the fun and spirit of competition? Allowing ties can recognize the efforts of both teams while rewarding everyone's hard work without declaring one a winner and one a loser, since the entire game was very close.

Others argue ties are unsatisfying from the standpoint of the fans. Do spectators who have paid to watch a game deserve to see one team eventually emerge victorious? Others don't like how ties can affect the standings and have potential playoff implications.

Different sports handle ties in different ways. There can even be differences between whether ties are allowed depending upon the level at which a particular sport is played. Ties may be allowed at the recreation or youth level, while professional leagues implement tiebreaker scenarios.

In soccer, ties or draws have come to play an important strategic role. An inferior team can sometimes play a defensive game with the goal of preventing the other team from scoring, thereby ensuring a 0-0 draw. This forces the superior team to change tactics and can turn games that might otherwise be boring blowouts into interesting, strategic matches.

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Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is sweet, smooth, creamy and delicious!