Forty years ago, as a youngster on a venerable staff at the national office of the National Federation of State High School Associations, where the playing rules for high school football were published, I would entertain my colleagues with a quixotic proposal – year after year – to eliminate the kickoff from football.
As a college player, I got my first playing time as a member of the kickoff team. I knew it was because the coaches didn’t want to risk injury to better players.
As a high school coach, when I conducted preseason scrimmages, I always insisted that kickoffs not occur because I didn’t want to risk season-ending injuries before the season even began.
So, as the world of football from youth levels to the pros is eliminating kickoffs or altering rules to reduce their frequency, I write smugly, “What took you so long?”
Rules committees on every level for every sport have an obligation to examine the data for their sports closely and determine precisely the circumstances that cause the most injuries. And then they must create and enforce rules that will eliminate or greatly modify that most injurious situation.
If the data tells us now what my gut told me as a young coach and administrator, we should give kickoffs the boot.