Published On: Mon, Sep 28th, 2015
Sports | By

ON THE SIDELINES: Helmet-to-helmet must be called





Sometimes, when standing on the sidelines taking photographs at Cherokee football games, I laugh to myself when I see a big hit because it’s all a part of the game.  Any of us who played football, or any rough, contact sport, know what’s it like to give out those big hits and to be the recipient.  But, I don’t laugh when I see helmet-to-helmet contact.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), in other words the governing body over high school sports, reported in a recent survey that football is the most popular sport for high school boys with 1,093,234 participants in the 2014 season.  A 2007 American Journal of Sports Medicine study reported that high school football players have “catastrophic injuries” at three times the rate as college players.  That is alarming.

Now, the question pops up, “Why?”

There are rules in high school football against targeting and spearing.  The NFHS defines targeting as “contact to an opponent above the shoulders” and spearing is “an act by any player who initiates contact against an opponent at the shoulder or below with the crown (top portion) of his helmet.”

While on the sidelines of Friday’s game (Braves vs Murphy), I witnessed three separate helmet-to-helmet contact hits that were not called.  Now, I’ve written before on the difficult job that referees have, and I do have respect for the officials (I couldn’t do it), but those are calls that have to be made.

If you miss a holding penalty call, no big deal.  If you mess up the yardage a little, ok, not that big of a deal really.  But, spearing and targeting must be called each time.

Brad Garrett, chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee, said it best, “Minimizing risks to players involved in these situations must remain at the forefront of the game.”

Maybe it’s time for high school sports to include another referee on the field whose sole purpose is to watch for these types of hits on every play.  They wouldn’t be responsible for looking for offsides, holding, pass interference or anything else – just targeting and spearing calls.

Football is a very rough sport, and these types of plays are bound to happen.  But, with proper coaching and diligent officiating, hopefully they can be minimized so the risk to players can be minimized.


“Rob Manfred confirmed he wants a decision by the end of the calendar year,” Ray Genco, attorney for Pete Rose, told ESPN following a meeting of Rose with MLB Commissioner Manfred.  Rose is seeking re-instatement into Major League Baseball.