It’s one of the most talked about rules in all of sports, and it made its presence known in a big way this past weekend. Of course, I’m talking about college football’s “Targeting Rule”.
Before we can really determine whether it’s needed or not, let’s first learn what the rule is. The following is an excerpt I found during my research that paints a pretty clear picture of what the “Targeting Rule” is.
- No player shall target and initiate contact vs. an opponent with the crown of his helmet.
- No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent.
The biggest thing that folks seem to have a problem with is not mentioned above and is the newest edition to the rule. Now, officials reserve the right to eject a player that violates this rule. However, that ejection is subject to a video review. Should the review show that targeting didn’t happen, the ejection will be overturned.
That player is then reinstated, but the 15-yard penalty that comes with the original penalty remains.
In other words, a player that is called for “targeting” will receive an ejection, and there will be a 15-yard penalty assessed against that players team. Should that player be reinstated after video review, the player can continue on in the game, but the 15-yard penalty is still assessed.
I know what you’re thinking: what a stupid rule, right? Well, you’re both right and wrong. The penalty and what comes after the call is confusing and can be, well, stupid. However, the very core of the rule and the reasoning for it is not.
It’s all about player safety. I understand that football is football and you can never make it 100 percent safe, but this rule certainly stands for a very noble and reasonable cause. It supposed to hinder players from launching themselves into other players in a motion so violently that could end two careers in one foul blow.
The only drawback is the penalty. It’s not structured well, and leaves a lot of gray areas — and the rule itself is so gray that it is open to interpretation as is.
However, the NCAA is on the right track with this rule. A defenseless player has no chance at protecting themselves when a defender is coming to deliver the blow. They’re along for the ride and anything that happens, harm and all, is simply going to happen.
At the very core, the rule serves a good purpose. It protects players from receiving serious harm and punishment from defenders. Will it put an end to all occurrences? No, absolutely not. But, it may just make one player think twice before diving headfirst into a quarterback that is giving himself up and sliding.
Whether you agree with the rule’s penalty or not, I certainly think there’s room for improvement on the disciplinary end, and you have to at least understand the rule’s purpose. It has everything to do with protecting the players, and that is something that is all too important in a sport as violent as football.
The rule is needed and it should stay. However, the penalty that is assessed with it needs some rethinking to remove the gray area that comes with it.