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Both teams line up over the ball while the quarterback yells out his cadence. The safety on the other side of the ball looks to make an impact. In a matter of moments, the ball is snapped, and the quarterback throws to his receiver. However, his receiver is hit by the safety as soon as he makes contact with the ball.
At first glance, it looks like a solid defensive play, but an official throws his yellow flag and calls a personal foul penalty on the safety, ejecting him from the game.
Who is to blame for this collision? Is it just the nature of the sport?
Player safety has always been an issue surrounding sports. No matter what sport athletes play, they are susceptible to injury.
This season, the NCAA has stepped up rules in player protection, mainly in football. Targeting and lunging into a defenseless player is now an automatic ejection and a suspension of the first half in the next game.
According to foxsports.com, during the first week of the college football season, six ejections occurred in 75 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) games, including two that were overturned. While a few hits looked blatant, most were from defenders who could not stop their momentum or had already committed to the tackle.
The NCAA is all about promoting textbook-form tackling. However, according to ACC coordinator of officials Doug Rhodes in a Sports Illustrated article, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney’s hit on a Michigan running back last season would have resulted in a flag for targeting, plus an ejection and a suspension.
“If anything, the opening week proved to me that this new enforcement misses the target,” former NFL VP of Officiating Mike Pereira said on his blog. “I would have left enforcement the way it was — a 15 yard personal foul Period.”
Collegiate players, as well as fans and officials, are aware of the new policy that is being expressed by the NCAA. Athletes feed off the energy ofthe crowd. If there was a purposeful hit meant to harm a player from an opposing team, fans would let the officials know about it.
While this is a better and moreclear-cut policy than the National Football League’s concussion policy, officials need to have better judgment about whether athletes are trying to simply make plays, or whether athletes are purposely trying to injure others.
Football is a violent sport, and players do get hurt on occasion. But are defenders supposed to wait until the receiver catches a pass or a running back receives a pitch to tackle him?
I am all for promoting a clean game, but this policy needs to be enforced better than it is now. Not every hard hit is cause for an ejection. Let the boys play a little.