Make Football Great Again: Revoke the Expansion of the Blocking Below the Waist Rule

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The expansion of Rule 9-1-6 negatively affects the game of football. Specifically, it limits the ability of the running plays and creates an undeniable shift towards a passing focused game. Football has always been an evolving game, but we cannot simply pick and choose how the game should be played. Rule 9-1-6 creates several restrictions to blocking below the waist with the most notable being that a player may not block below the waist more than 5 yards downfield. 

The rationale was that it makes the game safer for the players, when in fact there is absolutely no data to legitimize this claim. In fact, this rule change makes it more difficult for teams to run the football and incentivizes passing. Spreading the field and throwing the football creates more high speed collisions and impacts that players don't see coming. This undoubtedly leads to more head injuries and long term health consequences than running the football ever will.

Not only does this rule change make the game less safe, it makes Service Academies and other undersized teams less competitive. Kennesaw State coach Brian Bohannon said that "most teams block below the waist" and that the rule change takes the ability to compete from "a guy that’s not as big in stature." The NCAA is supposed to be purely about competition. All teams and players are not created equal like they are in the NFL. This rule change at the NCAA level follows the NFL's initiative to create a passing big man's game. Group of Five teams will continue to become less relevant moving forward.

This rule change was initiated by the inclusion of a bias and loaded question in the 2018 Football Rules Survey Report that was answered by collegiate head coaches, commissioners, coordinators, and officials. It reads "Based on AFCA feedback, blocking below the waist in the open field on scrimmage downs should be illegal, just as blocking below the waist currently is during kick downs and after a change of possession. Should the committee consider making blocking below the waist illegal when the block occurs 10 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage on scrimmage plays?" 

Georgia Tech Coach Paul Johnson said that cut blocking is "not anymore dangerous five yards down the field than it is on the line of scrimmage. If it’s that scary, they ought to not tackle below the waist.” Several other Coaches including Jeff Monken and Ken Niumatalolo have also been publicly critical of the rule. This rule change is simply a result of a select few saying that cut blocking is unsafe loud enough for long enough. A band-aid without a cut...

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