After The Whistle
By Eric Frantz
OHSAA approves Mercy Rule, Spring Football Next…?
I was going to send a survey to the membership of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association, but then I thought – ehh, why not blind side them again. But this time for protection.
The OHSFCA has pushed repeatedly for Spring Football in Ohio. The OHSAA has steadfastly denied it. And yet…the OHSAA has suddenly made the strongest case for it.
I’ve been so involved in trying to follow all of Ohio’s spring sports (weekly awards) that I almost forgot to follow its most important one. And then my friend Henry Conte reminded me oh so subtley why the OHSAA’s latest rule passage needed to be addressed…even more.
I learned of the OHSAA’s adoption of the NFHS’s mercy rule in football last Saturday in a tweet from OHSAA assistant commissioner Jerry Snodgrass. I respect Jerry as much as anyone at the OHSAA and we had a lengthy back and forth via Twitter. I produced the following article: Ohio will institute “Mercy” rule in 2014.
Jerry was just the messenger.
The OHSAA is the one to be questioned.
And I have some concerns.
First off, this is varsity athletics. Not intramurals.
I’m not Marv Marinovich, but when you wear the name of your city across your chest there’s a certain level of pride, sacrifice, effort and performance that’s expected. Hand in hand. Just how it goes.
Suddenly though, we’ve become immersed in a movement where we need to institute seven state football champions, competitive balance and…a mercy rule in football?
Maybe AAU does have something on the OHSAA. And that’s troubling too.
My daughter is in third grade, and she’s playing AAU basketball this spring. Don’t judge.
She loves it. But she also plays in games with terrible officiating. I don’t blame the officials (they ref three games a night every weeknight on a strict schedule) and I don’t expect AAU officiating will get better the older she gets. But the games do teach toughness. That’s something the OHSAA game is increasingly lacking.
Playing time, apparently, is on the most endangered list too.
I’m all for trying to keep football games competitive, but I’m not for limiting playing time and Friday Night minutes. That’s what this new Mercy Rule does.
It’s denying football players of snaps and anyone who has ever played football knows how important those are – regardless of which end you’re on. Like Henry said…“ Friday night is different. The lights, the sweat, the adrenaline, it all amplifies what you are in those pads. It reveals you as a player and, at times, a person.”
In 1992, I was a sophomore back-up linebacker on a team that bullied its way to a 10-0 regular season and plenty of lopsided wins. As a result I logged plenty of minutes and invaluable experience. That ultimately laid the foundation to a scholarship to Ashland University after my senior year. Highlights in ‘92 included winning the program’s first ever playoff game (over Graham) and beating Valley View 45-8 to win the Southwestern Buckeye League championship.
After that 37-point throttling of the Spartans, Valley View went on to win 92-straight SWBL games and three state championships. Included in that streak was my senior night – a 50-3 defeat.
I – like Henry – have seen both sides of the spectrum.
And I value both.
It’s football and there are only so many minutes to get kids snaps.
I’ve always found it amusing that the main combatant to the Spring Football argument is that we need to make offseason workouts fair for all sports in Ohio. If Football gets extra time, than all sports need extra time.
I’m here to talk some reason – NO THEY DON’T.
This is Ohio. This is football. This is unique. This needs to be understood.
If the OHSAA is going to cut football minutes in the fall, they need to add minutes in the spring.
It only seems logical. And Fair.
And that’s our goal these days.