Every year, usually in the spring, we hear about the new NCAA rules that are going to change college football for the worse. This year has been no different. The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel tackled the growing problem of showboating in college football, which you can read about at www.ncaa.org. The new rule will force referees to throw penalty flags on a player that is showboating on his way to the end zone. Good examples of this are waving the ball in a defenders face or high stepping. Fans are usually split down the middle on their thinking about unsportsmanlike penalties. Some say college football is an emotional game and we should just let them play. Others say the integrity of the game is challenged by taunting and excessive celebration. This new showboating rule is here no matter which side you fall. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the rule.
Taunting and showboating are both things that you either love or hate. You love it when your team does it and hate it when the other team does. I agree that football is an emotional game and so I like to err on the side of understanding when a nineteen year old kid gets a little out of hand, even when he’s not on my team. However, there is a line there that shouldn’t be crossed. The NCAA is attempting to draw attention to that line, and that is the point of the new rule. I don’t want to see the referees get too picky with this thing, but helping to teach these kids a little restraint is a good thing. Good sportsmanship should be expected and enforced by the referees.
That being said, I am scared to death of what could happen as a result of this new NCAA rule. What if my team throws a touchdown pass as the time ticks off the clock? What if the receiver high steps, which is a form of showboating, on his way in because he is so excited? What if the referee throws a flag and the touchdown is called back? That’s right. If the flag is thrown before the player crosses the goal line, according to the new rule, then it negates the touchdown. And what if the player is not high stepping? Maybe he did it to avoid the defender that was diving for his feet. It’s possible that the referee had a bad angle and couldn’t see the defender. This is where the line gets fuzzy. As I stated earlier, I am all for teaching these kids restraint and good sportsmanship. But I don’t want to lose a game because of it. In the end, showboating or no showboating, this new rule should have nothing to do with the outcome of a game. I am okay with the penalty. Except I don’t think it should negate a score. Tack fifteen onto the extra point attempt or the kickoff like we used to do it.
I have seen plenty of games in the past few seasons where the referee made a horrible judgment call that changed the outcome of the game. This new NCAA rule has more shades of gray than I would like. I hope it works out without any controversy. I’m just not sure it will.