15.12.15

SIMPLIFY THE RULES.

Isn't Gregg Easterbrook also a political pundit?  But when it comes to professional football, he's got the right idea.
Football rulebooks are too complicated and too freighted with zany distinctions: In high school, players must wear shoes, but socks are optional, while in the pros, players must wear socks but don’t need to wear shoes.

And was it a catch or not a catch? In the off-season, the league said, “The language pertaining to a catch was clarified.” The clarification — it’s below — is 158 words and incomprehensible to a Supreme Court clerk.

Rulebook simplification would improve officiating. As for replay review, how about making it blind? If the reviewing official did not know what call was made on the field, he or she wouldn’t have observer bias.
That would be the end of "unambiguous video evidence" or whatever it is that distinguishes "ruling is confirmed" from "ruling stands" to "ruling is changed."  And perhaps he is thinking about the obvious generalization.
Excessively complicated football rules reflect the over-lawyering of contemporary life — they are another way in which the National Football League holds a mirror to American society. But rules of half the length would be twice as good.
And we'd have more clarity about what a "catch" is.
In order to complete a catch, a receiver must clearly become a runner. He does that by gaining control of the ball, touching both feet down and then, after the second foot is down, having the ball long enough to clearly become a runner, which is defined as the ability to ward off or protect himself from impending contact. If, before becoming a runner, a receiver falls to the ground in an attempt to make a catch, he must maintain control of the ball after contacting the ground. If he loses control of the ball after contacting the ground and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. Reaching the ball out before becoming a runner will not trump the requirement to hold onto the ball when you land. When you are attempting to complete a catch, you must put the ball away or protect the ball so it does not come loose.
On the other hand, if a runner loses control of the ball after contacting the ground, the play is over, irrespective of who next establishes control of the ball.  And video review of fumble recoveries often turns on whether the runner lost control first or was in contact with the ground first.

Go read the entire column, Mr Easterbrook may be in his own way recognizing that there are too many college bowl games.

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