Preventing targeting in football

Even though everyone acknowledges the possible serious injuries associated with targeting, the penalty for targeting and the possible associated injuries is not severe enough to prevent

the infraction.

There are supposedly two parts to the targeting penalty: A yardage component and a player disqualification component (the remainder of the entire game if the infraction occurs in the first half, or the remainder of the second half plus the first half of the next game if the infraction occurs in the second half).

In reality, where is the penalty? If a player is charged with roughing the passer and no targeting, there is a 15-yard penalty. If a player is charged with roughing the passer because of targeting, there is still only a 15-yard penalty.

The yardage penalty is the same, whether there was targeting not. For the targeting infraction there should be an additional penalty, perhaps five or

10 yards added to the original

15 yards, or maybe there should be a point added to the score of the aggrieved team.

The other component of the penalty for targeting is the player disqualification. When a player is disqualified because of targeting, another player is allowed to substitute for him.

Depending on the talent of the original player, and the talent of the substitute player, the disqualification penalty may be significant, or it could be almost nonexistent. There should be a more severe penalty. The player has to suffer, and the team also has to suffer. To make sure the disqualification penalty is truly significant, no substitute player should be allowed.

In hockey, a disqualified player goes to the penalty box, and, for a specified period of time, the team plays with one player short. Why not do something similar in football? The team could be forced to play with only 10 players for a series of downs, or perhaps two series of downs, or, like hockey, for a specified period of time with only 10 players instead of the normal 11.

This would get the coach’s attention. As an alternative, perhaps the team could be charged with a time out.

The above suggestions would be anathema to the affected team and the affected coaches, but if the above suggestions prevent future injuries, they are worth it. If the coaches and prayers realized how damaging the more severely imposed penalties would be to the team, and to

the possible outcome of the game, I believe there would be greater instruction and greater emphasis on how to prevent targeting infractions.

Are a few extra yards or even a victory, which will soon be forgotten, worth a possible life-changing injury to a 20-year-old male? The bright lights on a scoreboard, indicating a loss, are much better than the flashing lights of an ambulance transporting a paralyzed young athlete to an emergency room, or a future diagnosis of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

The coaches, football officials and announcers need to profoundly emphasize the possible dangers of targeting, not only to the player being hit, but also to the player doing the hitting. More severe penalties might help prevent future injuries.

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