The wording sounds like it was written by a gang of lawyers, but if you ask me I say it’s a bunch of garbage. They call it the Football Point Differential Rule, but I’m going to call it what it really is — a mercy rule.
Yes that’s right, if you haven’t been paying attention the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors passed legislation last month implementing a stinking mercy rule for high school football games here in Ohio starting this fall.
People in this state treat the game of football like a religion and I’ve got to think that most people feel the same way as I do, that this is clearly a bad idea. Football is the ultimate team game, the sport where an athlete is tested on every play. For the lack of a better phrase, it’s a man’s sport and one where weakness isn’t tolerated.
So here how it’s going to work. If at any point in time of the second half if one team gets ahead by 30 points or more, the game clock will continue to run, thus helping a lopsided game end sooner. The only way the clocks stops in the second half of a game separated by more than 30 points will be if there’s a charged timeout, an official’s timeout, the end of a period or if a team scores. If stopped for one of those reasons the clock will begin on the next ready for play.
So whatever happened to dealing with adversity and learning life lessons through losing? If you’ve ever played sports you inevitably have played on a team that was thoroughly over-matched at some point in time. How’d you handle it? Did you work harder the next time or did you accept the fact you weren’t better and weren’t ever going to get better?
We’ve created a society where if things aren’t going exactly the way we want them to go it’s OK to quit or at least in this case just speed up the game so it doesn’t hurt as long. C’mon seriously?
According to a press release from a month ago the OHSAA said:
The point differential regulation, which is already used in many states, is permitted by state adoption according to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). The proposal was recommended to the board by the OHSAA staff after more than a year of consultation with the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.
Unlike changes to the bylaws and constitution, which require a vote of the membership, changes to sport‐specific regulations and the general sports regulations need only approval from the board of directors.
So some board of individuals somewhere made this decision, I can’t imagine this would have passed had it had to go to a statewide vote by OHSAA member schools. Sure the state’s governing body threw out a comment or two about health concerns and safety of athletes, but what about building character and fighting through hard times?
“First and foremost, this was proposed out of concern for player safety,” Beau Rugg, the OHSAA’s assistant commissioner in charge of football, wrestling and all officiating, said. “Lopsided games aren’t good for anybody. The risk of injury goes up and it can be a tense situation for coaches and players. The length of games is also a topic of conversation at the national level. This is just the right thing to do.”
I know a lot of my sportswriter buddies were happy to hear about this rule, it’ll mean less time sitting in the press box waiting for a dog game to end. But doesn’t shortening a game actually take away from a team gaining experience and getting better?
You may be wondering how often this new rule will come into play? Considering three of the four teams in Madison County would have been on the wrong end of the equation at least once last year and another was on the plus side of it multiple times tells me this is a major issue that will effect more games than we think.
I’d complain more but clearly we don’t have enough time, the clocks running.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.