Written by Joe Kleinsasser Tuesday, 30 September 2008 17:16
The Tabor College football team lost starting quarterback Jason Aubrey for the game and possibly the season when an Ottawa defensive back delivered a blow to his head when Aubrey was several yards out of bounds, according to several eyewitnesses.
Tabor coach Mike Gottsch was quoted saying, “It was an unnecessary, uncalled for shot.”
The hit had little to do with the outcome. In fact, the game was decided long before the alleged cheap shot, because Ottawa scored five touchdowns in its first five possessions.
It’s easy to overreact when a player gets injured. However, it is callous and wrong to stand idly by and accept late hits as part of the game.
One troubling aspect of team sports, like football, soccer and basketball, is how to penalize players who take a cheap shot, also known as making a deliberate foul against an unsuspecting player.
In football, a cheap shot usually results in a personal foul and 15-yard penalty if spotted by an official. An official can immediately eject a player from the game if he feels the play warrants it.
An official can penalize a cheap shot, but he can’t prevent it. Ejections are infrequent, in part, because it’s hard for officials to interpret intent, so perhaps something more should be done to let coaches and players know that personal fouls will not be tolerated.
Football players are coached to be aggressive, and it’s not surprising that a few athletes cross the line from playing hard to taking a cheap shot. There will be occasional plays when a personal foul is a borderline call, but more could be done to discourage personal fouls.
Players on the receiving end of a cheap shot are vulnerable when opponents unleash a full-blown hit, block or tackle. Off the field it would be a crime, but in football it’s merely called a personal foul.
Count NFL commissioner Roger Goodell among those concerned with unnecessary roughness. He followed up his suspension of a Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback by re-emphasizing safety issues and warning that even first-time offenders will be subject to discipline.
In a memo to be read and distributed to all players on all 32 NFL teams, Goodell wrote: “From this point forward, you should be clear on the following point: Any conduct that unnecessarily risks the safety of other players has no role in the game of football and will be disciplined at increased levels, including on a first offense. Playing by the rules shows respect for your fellow players. No one wants to see unnecessary injuries.”
At the present time, players can accumulate multiple personal foul penalties in the KCAC. One would like to think that coaches would police their own players, but that doesn’t always happen.
A high school league, the Wichita City League, has a rule in basketball that essentially says any player or coach ejected during a game, also will be suspended for the next game.
It’s time for the KCAC to take similar steps and send a clear message to coaches and student-athletes that cheap shots and multiple personal fouls will not be tolerated.
If I was the grand poobah of KCAC football, I would propose that any player or coach ejected from a game will be suspended the next game.
And I would take it one step further. Any player flagged for three personal-foul penalties in a single game will receive a one-game suspension. If a player commits a fourth personal foul, the coach also will receive a one-game suspension for not disciplining an out-of-control player.
You could argue that I’m too lenient and that two personal fouls on any player should result in a suspension.
It seems that the KCAC needs to take a stand and say, “We won’t tolerate this poor behavior in an environment that emphasizes sportsmanship by student-athletes.”
The current 15-yard penalty is a cheap price to pay when the victims are defenseless.