The football game is in the last quarter and your team is winning. Suddenly the coach of the losing team demands that the game be extended an extra quarter to give them time to catch up.

Would the fans on either side put up with such an outrageous attempt to change the rules in the middle of the game? Certainly not. Neither will fair-minded Americans accept a similar attempt by the backers of the Equal Rights Amendment to change the rules in the middle of the consideration process and extend the time limit another seven years.

Such action would be unfair, unprecedented, and unrealistic. It should be buried under a torrent of righteous indignation.

The Supreme Court ruled in Dillion v. Gloss (1921) and Coleman v. Miller (1939) that Congress has the power to set a "reasonable" time limit for ratification. Nothing could be more unreasonable than to saddle state legislatures with the duty of debating the same constitutional amendment for 14 consecutive years.

The seven-year limit was set by Congress in the ERA resolution itself because that figure had been used in most other amendments of this century. As passed by Congress on March 22, 1972, ERA specifically states that it shall become part of the Constitution "when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several states within seven years from the date of its submission by the Congress."

In addition to the poor sportsmanship of the ERA supporters in trying to change the rules, their proposals is a great confession that they cannot get three more states by March 22, 1979. (Actually, they need six more states, because Nebraska, Tennessee and Idaho have rescinded their ratifications of ERA.)

The reason ERA has lost all its early momentum is that women have discovered that it will do nothing to benefit them in employment, education, credit or in any other endeavor. Federal legislation already has eliminated sex discrimination in those areas by passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974.

ERA will, however, take away from women many rights they now enjoy. It will take away a young girl's exemption from the draft in all future wars and force her to register just like her male counterpart. The Selective Service Act would have to read "all persons" in our next war, and women would be involuntarily assigned to combat duty just like men.

If laws pertaining to family support are neutralized by ERA, it would void the husband's obligation to support his wife, to provide her with a home and support their minor children. ERA simply would not permit any "sexist" law such as "Husband is liable for the support of his wife."

Section 2 of ERA would shift from the states to the federal government the last remaining aspects of our lives that it does not already control, including marriage, divorce, child custody, prison regulations, protective labor legislation and insurance rates.

ERA would prevent us forever from making reasonable differences between men and women on the basis of factual differences in child bearing and physical strength. ERA would force upon us the rigid, unisex, gender-free mandate demanded by the women's liberation movement, and it would transfer the power to apply that mandate to the federal government and the federal courts.

ERA can't win in seven years, and it is even less likely to win in 14 years. American women are too smart to fall for the fraud of ERA.