The NCAA’s recently altered rules regarding taunting in football are bound to spark up multiple moments of controversy in future seasons.
Beginning in 2011, live ball penalties for taunting will be assessed from the spot of the foul and eliminate the score. Examples include players finishing touchdown runs by high stepping into the end zone or pointing the ball toward an opponent.
There is no question the NCAA definitely has the right idea with this strict rule, but at the same time they have been walking a fine line of stripping their collegiate athletes from expressing any emotion on the field of play, which is a big mistake.
Football, like the majority of sports, is an emotional sport. Emotion has a very big impact on play and the level of play athletes can raise their game to. Officials need to be clearly taught the difference between natural emotion and excitement for the game, and intentionally taunting your opponent in an unsportsmanlike fashion.
Taunting your opponent is obviously something that needs to be dealt with and prevented, and if a player feels the need to point at an opponent who is chasing him, he fully deserves to be penalized. However, the notion that officials will only call the blatantly obvious instances like this is naïve.
After last season’s SEC officiating issue, it isn’t going to surprise fans and spectators across the nation when questionable flags are thrown due to this new rule. The issue is going to be the clarity and consistency of which the official’s interpret the rule.
It has been quite apparent how big of an effect on the game 15-yard penalties can be, so imagine the disbelief amongst a team and its spectators when they are shockingly stripped of a touchdown because an energized wide receiver, who just burnt his man and ran over a safety on his way to pay dirt, loses his touchdown because he pointed toward his mom in the stands a yard too early.
This is obviously not an instance in which the scoring team should be stripped of points, but there will be plenty of officials who will be quick to throw the flag to enforce this new rule at the first chance they get.
So despite having the best intentions in mind for the sportsmanship side of the game, the NCAA seems to be tiptoeing a fine line that might falsely affect the outcome of games.
Lets hope the NCAA and its officials can make the sport better by properly following through on this newly implemented rule.