Football athletes better protected with rule changes

Published 7:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2017

It seems like every year football rules change, spurring controversial and argumentative viewpoints of the alteration.

Mostly, we remember the “negative” changes, including those against celebrations, concerning special teams and the famous “what is considered a catch?” debate.

But this year, the National Federation of State High School Associations got it right, adding and amending rules to the jam-packed rulebook.

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Changes include providing a definition of a blindside block and a pop-up kick along with a written penalty of both offenses.

However, the most intriguing change was one instigated by coaches, game officials and state association representatives.

In a questionnaire, they presented a problem that might not happen in every game, but once it happens, it stays in our minds for as long as we live.

Defenseless player penalties have rapidly grown in the recent years, provoking safety issues as well as controversial calls from officials.

To better prepare for such a dramatic situation, a rule is now in place after the NFHS committee adopted specific examples of a defenseless player.

This definition will help officials make the right call and know when to penalize a player for violating the rule.

These alterations ensure the safety of each athlete who steps onto the gridiron and aims to keep them safe.

Football is gaining the reputation of being overwhelmingly dangerous, so hopefully these changes will be beneficial.

Athletes need to be ensured they are going to be safe, but the reality of that does not come from a change of rules, but a change in instruction.

Athletes are going to do what they are told by their coaches, and if coaches bite the bullet and place importance of the fundamentals on the dangerous part of football like tackling, receiving kickoffs and avoiding dirty plays that occur in the trenches, they will be better prepared to use proper techniques and avert injuries.

I applaud the NFHS for making positive strides to allow each athlete to pusrue their dream in football with less worry of severe injury.

This allows for more kids to continue playing through college and in return, a better chance that the next National Football League All-Star will come from Pearl River County.