In a move designed to improve player safety in college football, the NCAA on Thursday approved a new ejection penalty, according to NCAA.org.
Players who hit defenseless players above the shoulders will now be ejected. The previous 15-yard penalty will remain.
This goes a bit beyond what the NFL has been doing in recent years. It has put more emphasis on player safety, with fines and suspensions handed out for such activity.
While ultimately designed to protect the players, such measures have been controversial in the NFL because of the difficulty in deciding what kind of hits should be fined. Some players believe that it has made it difficult for defenders to tackle without worrying that they will be penalized.
It's also difficult for players and officials to agree on what defines a ''defenseless'' player in the split-second in which such decisions are made on the field.
Earlier this week, the news came out that Texas A&M quarterback and last season's Heisman winner Johnny Manziel was thinking about taking out an insurance policy to protect against future monetary losses due to potential injury. The timing is purely coincidental, but it does highlight the brutality of football and the risk athletes take by playing the sport.
College football's stance on hits above the shoulders, much like the NFL's stance on helmet-to-helmet hits, will undoubtedly be a point of debate moving forward.
It will not only be debated among the players and the league, but it will also be debated among fans and the media. In some people's eyes, too much restriction can hurt the game. Others believe it is necessary to prevent as many injuries as possible and protect the players from long-term effects and health issues.
The old days when defenders could be complete enforcers are over. This is a new era of football.
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