Thursday, January 03, 2008

High-step hijinx

Perhaps I've fallen ill to the "good ol' days" syndrome, and I'm representing a sec of unsportsmanlike sore losers and bad winners.  Or maybe - just maybe - college football is getting a little too sensitive.

I sure think so.

In the first quarter of tonight's FedEx Orange Bowl, a Kansas defensive back intercepted a Virginia Tech pass and had nothing in front of him but yards of open field and end zone.

The DB took off, crossed midfield, started to pull away from the nearest Hokie, and as he got within the 10 yard line kicked his legs up a la Deion Sanders.  He high stepped in for six points.  Touchdown Kansas!

I guess that is disrespectful to Virginia Tech to high-step into the end zone, but I can't see that being such a flagrant display of poor sportsmanship that it merits a 15-yard penalty - which ended up being the result.  The same thing happened on a more flamboyant play in the Rose Bowl when USC's Desmond Reed flipped into the end zone.

I don't think the flip should have been a 15 yard penalty, but I can see how if perhaps a player flipping around got hit in midair, or perhaps missed the landing an twisted an ankle, it could be a problem.  But to that I would say, "Dont showboat into the end zone if someone is close enough to you where you might not score!"

But if you're got nothing but wide open spaces between you and the nearest defender and want to high-step into the end zone, there's no reason that merits a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

If anyone should be penalized, it should be the Virginia Tech QB who threw a ball that was destined for nothing but six Jayhawk points.  I think the "powers that be" of college football are getting too sensitive to these sort of things.

In the NFL, if a player spikes a ball after a non-scoring play, I understand a penalty in that situation because that does in fact slow down the game because someone must then go retrieve the ball before the next play is run.  But we are talking about a scoring play!

What's next?  Will referees be required to determine if players are in fact running full speed the entire time they have the ball en route to the end zone.  If a player slows up and jogs into the end zone after a long kick return or reception with no opposing player in sight, perhaps he deserves a 15-yard penalty.  Although, then officials must determine if he slowed down while approaching the end zone because he was tired or because he wanted to showboat.

What if a player dunks the football over the uprights?  Now he's not only mocking the football players but also basketball players!  EGREGIOUS! OUTRAGEOUS!    Or maybe it's just fun.

So why not let the players play.  Let them enjoy their highlight reel moments.  Even let them *gasp* high-step into the end zone.  In looking at the biggest problems in sports these days (referees gambling, performance-enhancing drugs, accepting money from boosters or agents, or even spying on other teams), high-stepping into the end zone shouldn't be the biggest problem.

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