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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 08:28am
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Kicks into the endzone: rationale

The other day someone asked me, "How come the rules in high school football do not allow a kick to be returned from the endzone?"

My smart-alec answer was, "Because the ball is dead as soon as it crossed the goal line and you can't return a ball that's dead."

This person was interested in the rationale behind that rule ... and I had no answer (smart-alec or otherwise) to give him.

So, does anybody know the history and/or rationale behind the rule?
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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 08:40am
Ref Ump Welsch
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That's a good question. I've had players ask me that during the games, and I've given them the same smart-alec answer you gave. I'm interested to know if anyone knows the rationale. I'm sure one of the more experienced members on the board might know or have a better clue than I would. Speaking of the rule, it was that way 21 years ago when I last played.
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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 09:56am
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I have two guesses. First, kicks complicated to rule on: when does the kick end, muff vs. fumble, fair catch, momentum, and on and on. NFHS tries to simplify the rules where it can: so the ball is dead if the kick crosses the plane of the goal line.

Second, I would also speculate (and it's just speculation) that kick plays also see more injuries than most other types of play: players colliding with greater force, at odd angles, etc. NFHS tries to create rules that promote participant safety: so the ball is dead when the kick crosses the plane of the goal line.
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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 11:00am
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Originally Posted by mbyron View Post
I have two guesses. First, kicks complicated to rule on: when does the kick end, muff vs. fumble, fair catch, momentum, and on and on. NFHS tries to simplify the rules where it can: so the ball is dead if the kick crosses the plane of the goal line.

Second, I would also speculate (and it's just speculation) that kick plays also see more injuries than most other types of play: players colliding with greater force, at odd angles, etc. NFHS tries to create rules that promote participant safety: so the ball is dead when the kick crosses the plane of the goal line.
Sounds a logical guess, though now that most states have gone to 5 or 6-man crews, this shouldn't be an issue anymore, should it? Could the rule be a leftover from the old 3 and 4-man crew days?

I can see this too, with the NFHS passing the horsecollar rule this year as an example. Of course, your reasoning parallels the emphasis we hear every year about the safety of the participants.
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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 11:49am
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Originally Posted by RadioBlue View Post
The other day someone asked me, "How come the rules in high school football do not allow a kick to be returned from the endzone?"

My smart-alec answer was, "Because the ball is dead as soon as it crossed the goal line and you can't return a ball that's dead."

This person was interested in the rationale behind that rule ... and I had no answer (smart-alec or otherwise) to give him.

So, does anybody know the history and/or rationale behind the rule?
Here's another thought. Many rule changes are coach driven. Coaches don't want 15 y/o kids making a decision to run the ball out of the endzone when 7 out of 10 times he won't make it to the 20. The coaches I've talked to have no desire to see this rule changed.
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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 12:12pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbyron View Post
I have two guesses. First, kicks complicated to rule on: when does the kick end, muff vs. fumble, fair catch, momentum, and on and on. NFHS tries to simplify the rules where it can: so the ball is dead if the kick crosses the plane of the goal line.
I'd go with this one. This would be similar to baseball's immediate dead ball on a balk. Don't think- just enforce.
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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 12:16pm
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Originally Posted by bossman72 View Post
I'd go with this one. This would be similar to baseball's immediate dead ball on a balk. Don't think- just enforce.
But ... the dead ball on a kick into the endzone has been around MUCH longer than the dead ball for an NFHS balk. The deadball balk rule has only been in place for about a decade.
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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 01:02pm
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Safety

I was a former kicker in high school and college and it had always been explained to me that safety was the primary reason for this rule. In addition, back (oh so many years ago) there were not too many kickers that could routinely hit the end zone. It has now become a big weapon in field position portion of the game.
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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 03:35pm
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Originally Posted by Ref Ump Welsch View Post
Sounds a logical guess, though now that most states have gone to 5 or 6-man crews, this shouldn't be an issue anymore, should it? Could the rule be a leftover from the old 3 and 4-man crew days?
Around here, crews of 5 are for varsity only. Subvarsity and amateur games have 3 or 4, and there's far more such games. But my point was quite general: it's easier to officiate kicks into the endzone if they're all dead, no matter which official is making the call.

I also agree with BktBallRef's point above: coaches don't want kids deciding when it's good to run the ball out. Usually, the answer is "never," since R is starting at the 40 yard line instead of the 30.
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Old Fri Nov 06, 2009, 04:02pm
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For a while, Fed followed the rule that since players are safest when the ball is dead (i.e. when they're not playing), use any excuse to make the ball dead. They've trimmed a little of their excess in that regard; K is now allowed to advance their own scrimmage kick recovered in or behind the neutral zone, which only Fed of all the major codes used to prohibit.

More interesting was a period of some years ending in the early 1970s in NCAA when a scrimmage kick that touched the ground in R's end zone untouched by players was not dead. Made for some interesting backspin plays! Used to see R fielding punts in the shallow part of their end zone so they could make a fair catch or kneel and guarantee a touchback, rather than taking a chance on the ball's bouncing back into the field of play. I guess they changed that because they considered such bounces to be flukes unworthy of reward, but I don't see why that's any more the case than a ball's bouncing out of bounds.
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Old Sat Nov 07, 2009, 10:54pm
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Quote:
First, kicks complicated to rule on: when does the kick end, muff vs. fumble, fair catch, momentum, and on and on. NFHS tries to simplify the rules where it can: so the ball is dead if the kick crosses the plane of the goal line.

Second, I would also speculate (and it's just speculation) that kick plays also see more injuries
I don't work Fed, but my guess is that neither issue is of any concern. On both issues, the kick crosses the goal line on only a small percentage of cases and neither simplification nor injury prevention would be relevant.

Quote:
Coaches don't want 15 y/o kids making a decision to run the ball out of the endzone
This is almost certainly the real reason. This rule will never be adopted in the NCAA book but I wouldn't be terribly shocked to see Texas create an exception here. I honestly don't think many coaches in Texas are aware of this Fed (or any, for that matter) rule difference. Virtually all of our coaches are home grown and don't have experience outside of the state, and we've been playing NCAA rules since the Confederacy. If they ever learned about this, they might seek a change for the reason quoted above.
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Old Sun Nov 08, 2009, 03:57am
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Ya'll should try officiating a Canadian game. The kicked ball is live in the end zone. 50% bigger field. Umpires signal TDs.

I'm not sure all of you could do it!
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Old Sun Nov 08, 2009, 09:58am
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Originally Posted by JugglingReferee View Post
Ya'll should try officiating a Canadian game. The kicked ball is live in the end zone. 50% bigger field. Umpires signal TDs.

I'm not sure all of you could do it!
do yourself a favor, don't go there.
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Old Sun Nov 08, 2009, 08:48pm
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do yourself a favor, don't go there.
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Old Sun Nov 08, 2009, 09:28pm
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I'm just trying to remember whether there was ever a time in NCAA when any kick, or certain types of kick, in the air, or touching the ground or a player, in R's end zone was dead. I've almost got my history notes dug out -- preparing to move stuff back into the newly carpeted bedroom.

For quite a while after the end line was installed, a kick touching the ground or a player past the end line was not dead. They used to chalk the side lines a little past the end lines to remind people of that. I think it was that way for over 30 years, which means it must've been that way in Fed for a while too, unless that was one of the Fed changed on first diverging its rules from NCAA's. Must've been so in NFL too.
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