High schools implement new “targeting” rule

In an effort to reduce contact above the shoulders and lessen the risk of injury in high school football, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee developed a definition for “targeting,” which will be penalized as illegal personal contact. The definition of targeting and its related penalty were two of 10 rules changes approved by the rules committee at its January 24-26 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. Effective with the 2014 high school season, new Rule 2-43 will read as follows:

“Targeting is an act of taking aim and initiating contact to an opponent above the shoulders with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulders.”

FOX10 Sports spoke to local high school coaches about their thoughts on the new “targeting” rule.

“Safety is at the forefront of all our decisions and most coaches I’ve dealt with and talked with about this are solely in favor of this. We want it to be a safe sport, we want to at the same time keep the integrity of the sport, but if you look at the rule, I think it does that, I think it’s very similar to a spearing rule, but it does reemphasize that we want to keep head injuries out of the sport of football,” said McGill-Toolen head coach, Bart Sessions.

“The intent of the rule is really good; everything we do to promote safety is what we all want. My concern is, are we going to have the ability to train the officials on what to really look for because on the collegiate level and NFL level, they spend a large amount of time just on that rule, and we have a lot of great officials in Mobile and Baldwin County – so I’m sure they’ll do the best they can do, I just hope that we do our due diligence to properly train and know what we’re talking about,” said St. Paul’s head coach, Steve Mask.

Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine and liaison to the Football Rules Committee said the committee determined –in its continued effort to minimize risk of injury in high school football –that it was important to separate and draw specific attention to this illegal act. “Taking aim with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulders to initiate contact above the shoulders, which goes beyond making a legal tackle, a legal block or playing the ball, will be prohibited,” Colgate said.

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