PDT Sports Column
You can feel it in the air. The thick July heat hangs heavy with anticipation, and the sweet smell of freshly cut grass wafts throughout southern Ohio. High school football is just around the corner.
We at the Daily Times sports staff can’t wait for football season, so we’ve decided to make it the topic of this week’s Burning Question: If you were in charge of the OHSAA, what rule change would you make in high school football?
I used to love the college football overtime format. It prevented tie games, it gave both teams an equal chance to win the game and it made for some high-scoring, fun-to-watch football. What else could you ask for?
However, in the past few years, I’ve soured on the system. I’ve come to realize that overtime in high school isn’t quite football. It’s a completely different sport.
The overtime system the OHSAA uses completely removes two essential elements of the game of football: field position and time. By doing this, overtime unintentionally levels the playing field: Removing field position gives an advantage to teams with weak punters and kick-off specialists, and removing the time element gives advantage to teams with coaches with poor game management skills.
When it comes to deciding which team should win a game, it only makes sense to reward teams for having a more complete football team. That’s why overtime should mirror the rest of the game as closely as possible.
I think the NFL got it right when it adopted its new overtime format in 2012. In a normal, running clock situation, each team is guaranteed one possession, unless the team starting with the ball in overtime scores a touchdown. After each team has had its chance with the ball, the game moves to sudden death. It lessens the impact of the coin toss while retaining all of the basic elements of a football game.
The only downside of this format is that it opens up the possibility of a tie game. But tie games still remain a rarity in the NFL, as they happen maybe once every few seasons. And, keeping player safety in mind, the longer kids stay on the field, the more tired they get, and the more likely it is for an injury to occur. At some point, it’s safer to just get them off the field and call it a day.
There’s never going to be a perfect overtime system. But isn’t it smarter to play football to decide who wins a football game?
PDT Sports Contributor
When it comes to football in the state of Ohio, I like the vast majority of the rules that the OHSAA has in place. However, if I were to change one rule for high school football, I would move the official start of practice up a week from its current date (August 1), so that each team has a month to implement changes over all three phases of the game.
I know that it helped me a ton when we started earlier on in the summer instead of waiting until the last week of July to start football practice. During my freshman year of Kentucky High School Football, my teammates and I started our first day of practice on July 9, 2007 and were full-go (hitting with full pads) by the following Tuesday (July 17). This practice schedule helped me to be more prepared from both a physical standpoint (from going full-contact for over a month) and a mental standpoint (from more repetitions of the offensive and defensive schemes that we were running).
Following the 2007 season, the KHSAA changed the practice schedules to where you could not start practice until the final week of July, which gave us three weeks to get ready for the opening contest of the season (KHSAA football starts a week earlier than the OHSAA). We subsequently saw our winning percentage drop over the following three seasons due to confusion over what was being run and a lack of physical and mental preparation due to the late start.
In my opinion, the late start that the OHSAA has makes things much more difficult for everyone. First of all, it’s difficult for the coaches to establish a consistent practice schedule and regimen because the vast majority of schools are not in pads for the first three or four days of practice and are busy getting ready to schedule media days around a week after they begin actual practices.
The late start to full-contact hitting also makes it difficult for the players to get themselves physically and mentally prepared for all of the different offensive and defensive schemes that they will have to learn in such a short amount of time. This is especially true if the players are trying to learn offensive and defensive formations that require a lot of movement before the snap of the football, or if the players are trying to learn schemes that are completely different from the previous year due to a coaching shakeup.
So why not move the start of football practice up to July 25? An extra week can make the difference in being ready to play due to having more time in implementing new ideas in your offensive and defensive formations, which can only lead to more success on the gridiron for both the coaches and the players.
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