The Penalty Box: Rules Are Rules, And Some Are Bad

November 15, 2023 at 8:00 a.m.

By Roger Grossman

I want to talk about rules.
I’m a rules follower, and rules are good. We should all appreciate rules, and we should all follow the rules, even the ones we don’t like.
Some rules aren’t good, and sometimes rules are created that have good intentions, but they create other problems that no one could foresee in advance.
I am bringing this up today because of what happened in the Warsaw football game a couple of weeks ago.
If you haven’t heard, Penn had the football at the Warsaw 33-yard line but had to punt. They were punting into a 20-mile-an-hour wind, and the Penn punter was struggling to kick the ball downfield. He kicked the ball this time, and it went straight up in the air and hung right above the line of scrimmage.
Warsaw players did exactly as they were trained and ran away from the ball. A Penn player grabbed it to down it, and then turned to find an official to hand the ball to just as he had been trained to do.
Except there was no whistle.
The Penn coaches told the player to run, and he did…into the end zone…for a…touchdown…?
Yep, a touchdown.
Because he touched the ball behind the line of scrimmage, he was able to advance it. He could also have passed it.
I offer to you a rule change: if you can’t kick the ball and have it end up beyond the line of scrimmage, you shouldn’t get to advance it.
So, that quirky rule led me to think about other rules that should be changed or implemented.
For example, as an official and a broadcaster, I’d like to see a rule put in place that a player’s jersey number must be visible at all times. The rule would apply to both boys and girls, but I understand that it would affect girls players (and their pony-tails) more. All I am asking is that players’ hair is out of the way so we all can see who committed that foul or scored that basket.
I think the baseball rules that were put in place for the 2023 season worked pretty well.
I do think that they should extend the pitch clock to 20 seconds with no one on base and 25 with runners on base. In the heat of summer, it’s hard to keep that kind of pace up.
Still, three-hour World Series games are fabulous, and we should applaud that.
I also like the new college football rules where the clock keeps running after first downs.
It’s too soon to know if the new “bonus” free throws rules for high school will work. I will say that I hate the fact that there is no longer a 1-and-1 in high school basketball. There was an accountability in the concept of “make one and get another” at the free throw line that we have now lost.
Quarterbacks are getting injured at an alarming rate in the NFL this season. Maybe it’s time we go to an extreme level to protect them.
What if we implement a “your first touch on the quarterback, the ball is dead” rule?
I know, you just wadded up your newspaper or spiked your mouse—I get it. Follow me for a second.
When a defensive lineman first contacts the QB, he’s down. That’s the verbiage in my proposed rule and it’s important to the success of it.
A defensive player can still hit the quarterback hard. I am not interested in taking that out of the game. But as soon as a defensive player so much as puts a hand on the passer as he flies by him, the play is dead. Yes, it will take away the quarterback scrambling out of trouble, but it gives them less of a chance of getting hurt.
That rule, coupled with my long-held rule change that every offensive lineman but the center must wear boxing glove-style mitts so they can’t grab but are allowed to do pretty much anything else would eliminate holding penalties and better protect the most important player on the field.
I am only joking about that…a little.
I am hoping someday that the rules of basketball will include an officials signal that indicates a player has used their dribble when it’s not clear if they have or not.
Example: player 1 throws a pass at player 2’s knees, and the ball hits 2’s hands and then the floor. Player 2 grabs it, and then dribbles. The referee calls double-dribble.
Player 2 didn’t know if they could dribble or not, but the official knew as soon as it happened.
The National Federation of High Schools needs to come up with a hand signal that will indicate whether or not the player has dribbled. Maybe thumb down for “they can’t dribble” anymore.
Other parts of life need some rules changes too.
When you order a pizza from a pizza restaurant, the crust should less than half-an-inch wide and half-an-inch tall. I’m paying for pizza, not pizza crust.
Delivery companies need to create second shift crews. Day shift would deliver to businesses when they are open, and second shift would deliver to homes after 5pm when more people are home. It would cut down on porch pirates.
That’s it, for now.

I want to talk about rules.
I’m a rules follower, and rules are good. We should all appreciate rules, and we should all follow the rules, even the ones we don’t like.
Some rules aren’t good, and sometimes rules are created that have good intentions, but they create other problems that no one could foresee in advance.
I am bringing this up today because of what happened in the Warsaw football game a couple of weeks ago.
If you haven’t heard, Penn had the football at the Warsaw 33-yard line but had to punt. They were punting into a 20-mile-an-hour wind, and the Penn punter was struggling to kick the ball downfield. He kicked the ball this time, and it went straight up in the air and hung right above the line of scrimmage.
Warsaw players did exactly as they were trained and ran away from the ball. A Penn player grabbed it to down it, and then turned to find an official to hand the ball to just as he had been trained to do.
Except there was no whistle.
The Penn coaches told the player to run, and he did…into the end zone…for a…touchdown…?
Yep, a touchdown.
Because he touched the ball behind the line of scrimmage, he was able to advance it. He could also have passed it.
I offer to you a rule change: if you can’t kick the ball and have it end up beyond the line of scrimmage, you shouldn’t get to advance it.
So, that quirky rule led me to think about other rules that should be changed or implemented.
For example, as an official and a broadcaster, I’d like to see a rule put in place that a player’s jersey number must be visible at all times. The rule would apply to both boys and girls, but I understand that it would affect girls players (and their pony-tails) more. All I am asking is that players’ hair is out of the way so we all can see who committed that foul or scored that basket.
I think the baseball rules that were put in place for the 2023 season worked pretty well.
I do think that they should extend the pitch clock to 20 seconds with no one on base and 25 with runners on base. In the heat of summer, it’s hard to keep that kind of pace up.
Still, three-hour World Series games are fabulous, and we should applaud that.
I also like the new college football rules where the clock keeps running after first downs.
It’s too soon to know if the new “bonus” free throws rules for high school will work. I will say that I hate the fact that there is no longer a 1-and-1 in high school basketball. There was an accountability in the concept of “make one and get another” at the free throw line that we have now lost.
Quarterbacks are getting injured at an alarming rate in the NFL this season. Maybe it’s time we go to an extreme level to protect them.
What if we implement a “your first touch on the quarterback, the ball is dead” rule?
I know, you just wadded up your newspaper or spiked your mouse—I get it. Follow me for a second.
When a defensive lineman first contacts the QB, he’s down. That’s the verbiage in my proposed rule and it’s important to the success of it.
A defensive player can still hit the quarterback hard. I am not interested in taking that out of the game. But as soon as a defensive player so much as puts a hand on the passer as he flies by him, the play is dead. Yes, it will take away the quarterback scrambling out of trouble, but it gives them less of a chance of getting hurt.
That rule, coupled with my long-held rule change that every offensive lineman but the center must wear boxing glove-style mitts so they can’t grab but are allowed to do pretty much anything else would eliminate holding penalties and better protect the most important player on the field.
I am only joking about that…a little.
I am hoping someday that the rules of basketball will include an officials signal that indicates a player has used their dribble when it’s not clear if they have or not.
Example: player 1 throws a pass at player 2’s knees, and the ball hits 2’s hands and then the floor. Player 2 grabs it, and then dribbles. The referee calls double-dribble.
Player 2 didn’t know if they could dribble or not, but the official knew as soon as it happened.
The National Federation of High Schools needs to come up with a hand signal that will indicate whether or not the player has dribbled. Maybe thumb down for “they can’t dribble” anymore.
Other parts of life need some rules changes too.
When you order a pizza from a pizza restaurant, the crust should less than half-an-inch wide and half-an-inch tall. I’m paying for pizza, not pizza crust.
Delivery companies need to create second shift crews. Day shift would deliver to businesses when they are open, and second shift would deliver to homes after 5pm when more people are home. It would cut down on porch pirates.
That’s it, for now.

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