High school football may look a little different come this fall
The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced changes to their rules and regulations yesterday for the 2014-15 school year. While in most years, this may be only a formality, with rules changes so minor that schools and fans almost not even notice, there was one rule change that may crop up people's ears.
The Point Differential Rule, or as some call it, the Mercy Rule
How does this new rule work?.... In the first half of games, things stay the way they are. If the score point differential is 30 points or more anytime in the second half, there will be a running clock. The clock will stop only after an official's timeout, a charged timeout, or a score. When the point differential dips below 30 points, then teams will revert back to the normal rules of play.
Didn't the OHSAA have to vote on this?.... The answer is no. Because the change is regarding sport specific changes and general sports regulations, it did not have to be voted on by the members of the OHSAA. It only had to approved by the Board of Directors. This decision has been a year in the making, after discussions with sports administrators, coaches, and member schools.
Needless to say, the opinions for and against the new changes are strong.
In a quote to Northeast Ohio Media Group, Glenville coach Ted Ginn seems to be in favor of the rule:
It works for me. If I’m up 30-40 points, I don’t want to destroy kids or destroy a program. I ran into situations where we’d come out from halftime, and if the score is already 50-0 in the second quarter, we’re going to be running the clock.
Watkins Memorial head coach Jeff Severino is against the rule, and in a quote to the Newark Advocate, explains why:
It surprises me. I’m not in favor. I understand that some teams will run the score up, but not in our area. I think the coaches do a nice job of not letting it get out of hand. It takes away time you can get younger kids in, and it takes away from the game itself. Kids get to march down the field and get into a rhythm. It also takes away from the game experience. People go to the game and want to see a full game, and it’s bad for the boosters who run the concession stands
One of the reasons that this new rule was adopted was the concern with player safety. Studies have shown that the risk of injury goes up during games in which one team is dominating another. In his statement to the OHSAA, Beau Rugg, the assistant commissioner for football, wrestling and all officiating, gave his thoughts behind the new rule:
First and foremost, this was proposed out of concern for player safety. Lopsided games aren’t good for anybody. The risk of injury goes up and it can be a tense situation for coaches and players. The length of games is also a topic of conversation at the national level. This is just the right thing to do.
This decisions comes on the heel's of last Friday's passing of a Competitive Balance Proposal, which is trying to level the playing field by assigning sport specific "enrollment counts" which may or may not affect what Division each team is assigned to in each sport. This new proposal won't take effect until the 2016 school year, while the Point Differential Rule takes effect this fall.
One more caveat to this new rule is that periods and games can actually be shortened, if both coaches and the referee are in agreement.
Will this new Point Differential Rule work?
We will find out next fall