Why the Targeting Rule is a Good Rule

Rich Schultz

Pretty much everyone you talk to either hates the targeting rule or they think it's too much, but I think I like actually like it.

In an effort to limit the amount of head trauma in college football, the NCAA has enforced a stricter penalty this year that includes an ejection as well as 15 yards for a personal foul. The semantics of the rule - launching, helmet to helmet, hit above the shoulder, etc., well those can be endlessly debated, but at the end of the day I think they get the point across: we want to take out any hits that could possibly turn into a concussion.

"You're killing football"

As you might guess, I am in the construction business. We work on metal buildings, and iron workers have always braved great heights to do their job. It's a tough guy job. You walk the steel and that's just what you're gonna do. So when OSHA comes in over the last 5 years and tells everyone they have to be tied off 100% of the time, and we'll have to use additional equipment to ensure that safety, it was met with plenty of backlash. I did not like it and I hadn't been in the industry all that long. We are iron workers, just look away! But after the change had been implemented over the course of a couple years and everyone got used to it, it really isn't that big of a deal. And we're actually safe - no more falling off a roof or someone falling onto a concrete slab and killing themselves. Change was hard, but we are better for it now. In the end it was really stupid to unnecessarily risk someone's life - someone who has a wife and kids they are supporting - to walk an 8" piece of steel 40' feet in the air without a harness.

Some folks complain that football won't even be around in 20-30 years because it will become a game of two-hand-touch and no one will want to watch it. Hogwash. That is just trying to reject change.

"They knew what they signed up for"

This is the comment I really can't stand, especially when it comes from people who never played football. It's like they are some type of gladiators beating each other to a pulp for our amusement?

It doesn't matter if they know what they're signing up for or if they are willing to accept that risk for a scholarship or payment in the NFL. Basically what you're saying with this statement is if you want to be safe then football is no place for you. That is unfortunate.

Back again to being an iron worker - it would be a shame if someone who doesn't want to take the risk of falling off a building [with no harness] cannot take a job like this because it would be met with the attitude of "they knew what they signed up for". Pardon them for not wanting them to risk their life for $15 an hour.

"This isn't how the game is supposed to be played"

The game of football used to be played in leather helmets. I don't think they purposely had major collisions back then knowing their head and face were exposed like that. You could make an argument that the game has flourished because of the big hits and violent collisions, but if we see a dramatic decrease in them I don't think it will hurt the game too much. And if it does, I'd rather hurt the game than hurt human beings and their ability to function.

I watch football for football. Who wins and loses, not for the big hits. I think that is why most people watch it. It may not be why most folks watch SportsCenter, but that makes no difference. I would honestly prefer Mississippi State make a sure form tackle than blow someone up. Is Nickoe Whitley less exciting as he was two years ago? Yeah, but I can live with it if he doesn't severely injure anyone.

The Rule

Concussions are not going to go away. Tyler Russell did not suffer a major blow but still got one. Sometimes it is just part of football, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to do as much as possible to prevent them. When a large percentage of head injuries occur because of what is spelled out in the targeting rule, it makes it a good rule.

Unfortunately we saw what is probably the end of Ferlando Bohanna's career this past Saturday. We can only hope and pray he doesn't suffer any ill-effects from his head injuries going forward as he lives his everyday life.

With all the NCAA does wrong, I think they got this one right. These types of hits don't belong in any sport.

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