A Leisurely Stroll To The End Zone
November 9, 2010 12:18 PM   Subscribe

The Driscoll Middle School team was down 6-0 near the end of the third quarter of a championship game when the quarterback pretended that the officials mis-marked the ball that it needed to go five yards further down field. So he picked up the ball and calmly walked through the defense. Then he ran 67 yards for the touchdown.

They called it "The Penalty Play".
posted by analogue (176 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just beautiful.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:19 PM on November 9, 2010


Bullshit play.
posted by chugg at 12:20 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


"...championship game... ended with a 6 to 6 tie."

/facepalm
posted by Perplexity at 12:21 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Awesome! Reminds me of that AskMe question about the spouse who insisted peaking at the Clue cards was fair game.
posted by bondcliff at 12:22 PM on November 9, 2010


That kid one day will be President of this glorious banana republic of ours.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


So, he cheated, then?
posted by jbickers at 12:23 PM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


So, he cheated, then?

No, he broke no rules. This was a touchdown, fair-and-square. He deceived the defense using misdirection, which is a pretty standard strategy in football. This misdirection was just a little more elaborate than the usual.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:25 PM on November 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


Outsmarting middle-school kids is one thing, but do you have any idea how many five-year-olds I could take in a fight?
posted by straight at 12:26 PM on November 9, 2010 [16 favorites]


AGAINST!
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:26 PM on November 9, 2010


So, he cheated, then?

Not at all. It's not a violation of the rules to trick your opponent into thinking a penalty was called, any more than a Sneak is a violation.
posted by kafziel at 12:26 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The key to success, as always, is to look like a) you know what you're doing, and b) what you're doing is what you're supposed to be doing.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:26 PM on November 9, 2010 [39 favorites]


So, he cheated, then?

That's not cheating any more than any other quarterback sneak, deke, or fake.

They could have tackled him at any time as he waltzed through the line.

I love how well he sold it though. Comedy gold.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:26 PM on November 9, 2010


From what I understand, this is a variation of a trick play often called "Wrong ball" or "Wrong ball, coach". You can see many instances on YouTube. The idea is to disguise a sloppy but legal snap as some kind of interruption in play and then take the defense unawares. This variation is particularly bold in that the QB walks straight through the defensive line instead of faking towards the sidelines.

Howver, you can't fool all of the people all of the time.
posted by mhum at 12:27 PM on November 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


That's what you get for calling a game that allows you to pick up the ball "football."
posted by monospace at 12:27 PM on November 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Tactically brilliant, but will never work again. Sun Tzu would approve.
posted by Scoo at 12:28 PM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is what's known technically as a dick move.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:29 PM on November 9, 2010 [25 favorites]


It wasn't cheating so much as taking advantage of the sportsmanship of the opposing team who were okay with letting the offense take the "correct" field position.

I don't like this. School sports should be as much about character development as athletic development.
posted by Loto at 12:30 PM on November 9, 2010 [23 favorites]


Awesome to be the kid.

Really, really sucks to be on the other end of it, though. I mean, the coach that designed the play is doing nothing less than preying on the maturity levels of his opponents. Legal, but feels cheap. Not at all like a fake field goal or similar gadget play.

In Little League, we had a play where, if runners were at first and third with no outs or one out, the runner on first would start hooting, hollering, dancing and walking toward second base. Invariably, the confused pitcher would start going after him for a rundown, and forget there was a runner on third that could bolt home. Bang, a "free" run, and sometimes, in the confusion, the runner on first wouldn't be caught either.

In Pop Warner, we also had a tackle eligible play that always caught people off guard. This felt less cheap, because it's uncommon, but not entirely unheard of, and the guy still has to catch the pass in traffic.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:30 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let's call it a hack and celebrate it, if only for its hilariousness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:31 PM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


That's a chickenshit play. It takes unfair advantage of your opponents' sportsmanship, i.e. his restraint from violence. Football is an extremely violent game, but it's played within boundaries; you're not just crushing anyone who touches the ball at anytime. Taking advantage like this isn't clever or cute, it's cheap.

No, this isn't an illegal play, but that doesn't mean you're not an asshole for running it. You can usually get away with squeezing a guy's nuts in the pile, too.
posted by Nahum Tate at 12:32 PM on November 9, 2010 [20 favorites]


Obligatory
posted by lalochezia at 12:33 PM on November 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


Reminds me of a trick play we did in college intramural flag football. A ball punted five yards was legal. We did it, ran it in for a TD. Called back. Ref goes down to the officiating shack to get a ruling and comes back "legal as hell, but I blew the whistle." cost us our season.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:35 PM on November 9, 2010


According to a great reddit comment, this would have been an illegal play in the NFL. The QB moves to receive the "snap", which is a violation of Rule 7, Section 2, Article 6:
At the snap, all offensive players must be stationary in their positions:

(a) without any movement of feet, head, or arms;

(b) without swaying of body; and

(c) without moving directly forward except that one player only and he, playing in a backfield position, may be in motion provided he is moving, parallel to, obliquely backward from, or directly backward from the line of scrimmage at snap.

Note 1: No player is ever permitted to be moving obliquely or directly forward toward his opponent’s goal line at snap.

Note 2: Non-abrupt movement of head and/or shoulders by offensive players prior to the snap is legal. Players must come to a stop before ball is snapped. If officials judge the action of the offensive players to be abrupt, false start foul is to be called.

Penalty: For player illegally in motion at snap: Loss of five yards from previous spot. In case of doubt, this penalty shall be enforced.
posted by Plutor at 12:35 PM on November 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


to elaborate, we punted it 5 yards to our own guy, who ran it the length.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:36 PM on November 9, 2010


No, this isn't an illegal play, but that doesn't mean you're not an asshole for running it. You can usually get away with squeezing a guy's nuts in the pile, too.

So, squeezing nuts is legal?
posted by dirtdirt at 12:37 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can usually get away with squeezing a guy's nuts in the pile, too.

One thing is doing something sneaky, but legal, and getting away with it. The other is doing something sneaky and illegal and getting away with it. There's a difference.
posted by Plutor at 12:37 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


It takes unfair advantage of your opponents' sportsmanship, i.e. his restraint from violence.

This is kinda my reaction. I know it's legal, but ... what should the kids on the field have done? "I didn't hear a whistle; I'm tackling him"? How would that kid be treated on YouTube if he turned out to be wrong and he tackled a kid after a whistle and somebody got hurt?

I'm not sure what the right way to teach the defense is in this case. "If you didn't personally hear the whistle, assume there wasn't one, and tackle, tackle, tackle!" I'm not an expert in this field, but while I understand this is cute, I also have kind of a negative reaction to it in terms of what the purpose of sports at this age is supposed to be.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 12:37 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can usually get away with squeezing a guy's nuts in the pile, too.

Maybe so, but is that technically against some rule, i.e. if you were caught doing it there could be some penalty?

I can see both sides of the argument but I don't see where the line should be drawn between plays that require trickery/fakery vs. ones that are too tricky or tricky in the "wrong" way.
posted by mikepop at 12:39 PM on November 9, 2010


Let's call it a hack and celebrate it, if only for its hilariousness.

Yes, it really is quite funny.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:40 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dunno Plutor, didn't look like he was moving forward. His hands went forward, but since a snap not through the legs is legal, then it might not have been flagged.

Doesn't matter though. an LB would have leveled any QB trying that in the pros. In short order.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:40 PM on November 9, 2010


His hands went forward

And his arms, which must be stationary. The rules call out this exact scenario:
A.R. 7.14 Third-and-one on the B40. Quarterback A1 stops about a foot behind the center and then moves forward and takes the snap and goes to the B38.

Ruling: Illegal motion. Can’t be moving forward at snap. A’s ball third-and-six on B45.
posted by Plutor at 12:42 PM on November 9, 2010


I'm not sure what the right way to teach the defense is in this case. "If you didn't personally hear the whistle, assume there wasn't one, and tackle, tackle, tackle!"

Yep. Cool play, but old news.

This is as much "cheating" or a "dick move" as is pretending the baseball got past you at second base by turning around and looking confusedly, all the while holding the ball in your glove. If the runner falls for it, you calmly tag him out as he started to run.

According to a great reddit comment, this would have been an illegal play in the NFL.

I'm pretty sure it would be illegal in NCAA football too. Bueller?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:43 PM on November 9, 2010


So, squeezing nuts is legal?

In rugby it's mandatory.
posted by atrazine at 12:44 PM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


I know it's legal, but ... what should the kids on the field have done? "I didn't hear a whistle; I'm tackling him"?

Yeah, that would have been the thing to do.

How would that kid be treated on YouTube if he turned out to be wrong and he tackled a kid after a whistle and somebody got hurt?

Well, presumably it would have been a good, legal tackle and no one would be hurt (as is the case with the vast majority of tackles in a football game.) And the kid would have been praised on YouTube, as this kid has been.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:44 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I've seen other versions of this play (actually, browsing youtube for trick plays is a fun way to waste away a couple I'm not at work hours). In fact I'd be willing to bet this coach picked up on the idea by seeing other videos on youtube. This particular one seems especially egregious because he begins walking directly towards the end zone; in the ones that seem more effective, the quarterback shouts something about needing a "new" or "clean" ball and begins walking towards the sideline. You can kind of understand the defense ignoring him under those circumstances.

How does a person who is definitely, definitely not at work find himself looking up internet video of high school football trick plays? Through his exploration of the A-11 formation, that's how! The A11 is a kind of wacky shotgun formation designed by a high school coach who was exploiting a rules loophole that keeps defensive players from being able to figure out who the legal receivers are, and therefore who should be covered. You know, while we're talking about legal but sketchy rules interpretations in American football. I love this stuff.
posted by penduluum at 12:46 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


By all means, let us instill in the next generation an appreciation for being sneaky and getting away with it.

Perhaps they'll resent us less for looting their Social Security benefits.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:46 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Had the same thing almost happen during one of my son's Little League games.

Opposing team, conference at the mound, where the pitcher slipped the 3rd baseman the ball, who kept it in his glove, and waited for the runner on 3rd to lead off to tag him. Unfortunately for them, the kid saw it coming, and didnt step off the base. This resulted in game delay, and the tricksters looking like total asses. Their coach got booed not only off the field, but out of the park.He just stormed off, got in his SUV and drove away. Left his own son standing in the outfield to finish the game. He never volunteered to coach again, and even years later that is the only thing anyone remembers about him.
posted by timsteil at 12:47 PM on November 9, 2010 [21 favorites]


Everyone knows how big football is in Texas, that is why we can all appreciate a little trickery on the field.

That lead makes my head hurt, and the rest of the article isn't any better. How can someone screw up four simple paragraphs? Neither the article nor the footage mentions the name of the opposing team, for crying out loud. The 5 Ws are apparently TOO HARD here.
posted by Spatch at 12:48 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe the Lions should try this.
posted by morganannie at 12:50 PM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


And the kid would have been praised on YouTube, as this kid has been.

Oh that is just awesome! See? There's a kid who knows how to do his research.
posted by penduluum at 12:50 PM on November 9, 2010


man he walks through that defensive line as cool as the other side of the pillow, and then just takes off and it is hilarious. But I can't help but feel like it is a little cheap.
posted by djduckie at 12:50 PM on November 9, 2010


what should the kids on the field have done? "I didn't hear a whistle; I'm tackling him"?

Yes.

This is just a slightly more elaborate and successful version of what Peyton Manning does on every. Single. Snap.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:51 PM on November 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Can we talk about how middle-schoolers are playing full-tackle football?

That's seriously Not Okay.
posted by schmod at 12:53 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't see where the line should be drawn between plays that require trickery/fakery vs. ones that are too tricky or tricky in the "wrong" way.

Me neither. That's why there are RULES in sports.

This play is like the old "pretend-to-trip-and-fall-down-then-pass-it-with-your-head-to-the-shooter" indirect-kick scam in soccer (which never, ever, ever works, afaik.)

You're trying to surprise the defense by using a legitimate tactic. In theory, it's not much different than lining everybody up on the right and running left.

"But, but, but ... all your guys looked like you were going that way. No fair!"

The play is certainly "cheap" (as in, only cheap-ass defenses would fall for it, and it makes the other team look stupid), but there's nothing wrong with running it.

Well, presumably it would have been a good, legal tackle and no one would be hurt (as is the case with the vast majority of tackles in a football game.) And the kid would have been praised on YouTube, as this kid has been.

Exactly. Sports fans and players aren't idiots.

Opposing team, conference at the mound, where the pitcher slipped the 3rd baseman the ball, who kept it in his glove, and waited for the runner on 3rd to lead off to tag him.

One of the oldest tricks in the book. Never lead off until the pitcher takes the rubber. EVERY baseball player knows that. It still works in the MLB, though, and happens all the time in college. Sometimes it works (or, um, it doesn't work and the ump calls you out anyway ...)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:53 PM on November 9, 2010


So, squeezing nuts is legal?

Same as in town.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:55 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


The only problem I have with the play is that the snap was wrong. It doesn't go through the center's legs.
posted by inturnaround at 12:56 PM on November 9, 2010


I live in Corpus (but only for about five more weeks, thankfully) and this is all I've heard about all day. People are going crazy over it and if you think YOU have a strong opinion on it you should hear the things being said around the water coolers all over town.
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 12:58 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This only works once.
posted by anniecat at 12:58 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"...championship game... ended with a 6 to 6 tie."

/facepalm


What's wrong? Everyone wins! Happy day!

And from YouTube side suggestions, this play happens a few times in youth games (etc, etc, etc).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2010


schmod,

My 8 year old nephew is playing tackle football (in Texas of course). And no, that's most definitely not right.
posted by redyaky at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2010


In Little League, we had a play where, if runners were at first and third with no outs or one out, the runner on first would start hooting, hollering, dancing and walking toward second base. Invariably, the confused pitcher would start going after him for a rundown, and forget there was a runner on third that could bolt home. Bang, a "free" run, and sometimes, in the confusion, the runner on first wouldn't be caught either.

I use this play all the time, except only when I have one of the weakest, slowest, least talented kids on first, because they can really sell it. And they all know what to do when I call the play: head toward second, look "confused," start back to first, pretend to be flustered by all the teammates yelling at him (part of the play), and then TRIP AND FALL DOWN. The kids really ham it up and at least in the first part of the season, we get they kid on third home every time.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:59 PM on November 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


This is as much "cheating" or a "dick move" as is pretending the baseball got past you at second base by turning around and looking confusedly, all the while holding the ball in your glove. If the runner falls for it, you calmly tag him out as he started to run.

As others have said, the thing that makes this play seem more dickish than a normal trick play is that it's taking advantage of the fact the opposing players aren't just going to level someone that appears to not actually be in a play. The baseball play punishes players who aren't cautious enough to stand on the base unless they know where the ball is, whereas this play punishes players who don't take out a quarterback in an ambiguous situation. Pretending to have an injury and taking advantage of an opponent letting their guard down to see if you are okay would be similarly dickish.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:00 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


That end part is funny when his teammate body bumped him and he just crumped to the floor. I guess you have to resort to trickery when you don't have the necessary athleticism.
posted by anniecat at 1:00 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is as much "cheating" or a "dick move" as is pretending the baseball got past you at second base by turning around and looking confusedly, all the while holding the ball in your glove. If the runner falls for it, you calmly tag him out as he started to run.

I was a pretty horrible catcher in Little League. When I got to the age where a wild pitch that flies into the backstop means that the runner on third can steal home....well, let's just say I did a lot of crying on the way to the post-game Dairy Queen fiestas.

So I finally got that fucker on 3rd when the ball zoomed past me, hit the backstop, and rolled right behind the umpire. I found the ball immediately, flipped off my mask, and then tried to look like I was desperately searching for the ball. Kid runs, I sell it, chase the kid back to third and dive just before he reaches the base. I'm a hero (for that game, at least). Every other game was a train wreck.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:00 PM on November 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Maybe the Lions should try this.

The Browns tried something as close to this as you can get away with in the pros on Sunday. It worked, but in post-game interviews, the guy who ran the play out and said "We can't try this again for another five years." Pro defenses aren't 11-year-old kids playing Pop Warner, and I guarantee you something like this won't work again this year.
posted by Mayor West at 1:00 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


schmod said:
Can we talk about how middle-schoolers are playing full-tackle football?

That's seriously Not Okay.


Full-tackle football starts in most districts in Texas at fourth grade. I'm not saying it's right or wrong... just giving you something to chew on.
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 1:02 PM on November 9, 2010


penduluum -- The boss just told me that she wants to see you in her office NOW!
posted by ericb at 1:02 PM on November 9, 2010


I'm more amused by the fact that the next time some kid tries to move the ball because it was mis-marked, he's going to get completely piled on.

(my hatred of sports here is being overridden by what I see as a soon-to-exist scene from an underdog kids football movie. The crotchety drunk (with a heart of gold) coach will come up with the idea, and the team's (misunderstood) punk kid will pull it off.)
posted by quin at 1:03 PM on November 9, 2010


Their coach got booed not only off the field, but out of the park.

What city do you live in so I can mark it down on my "never have children in that city" list?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:03 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


In rugby it's mandatory.

And dealing with scenarios like this is much more straightforward - "kill the man with the ball at all times."
posted by chundo at 1:03 PM on November 9, 2010


Maybe the Lions should try this.

Funny, I was thinking more that someone should try it against the Lions. Hey, if it works against middle schoolers...
posted by Pufferish at 1:05 PM on November 9, 2010


What I love is how people are freaking out over middle school sports. Reminds me of all the parents who flipped out at the referee over calls when I watched my brother play ice hockey, growing up.

After the game, some yuppie parent would invariably get up in the face of some poor, sweaty 18 year-old who made five bucks refereeing the game. Either that, or start a shouting match with another parent, if the ref wasn't around.

Youth Sport Is Serious Business.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2010


By all means, let us instill in the next generation an appreciation for being sneaky and getting away with it.

That's the basic principle guiding all good accountants. Not just understanding the rules, but gaming the ruleset. We don't need to "teach" the next generation that; it's already as American as apple pie or the onside kick.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:06 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I got a turn playing quarterback in high school (women's P.E.) flag football once. I noticed that the previous quarterbacks were passing every play, and that most of the defense was way the hell up the field as a result, so I got the ball, faked a pass, dodged a couple defenders, and ran all the way down the field for a touchdown... and then spent five minutes defending myself against an onslaught of OMG CHEATER CHEATER QUARTERBACKS CAN'T RUN WITH THE BALL!

Eventually the teacher came over to explain that yes, actually, quarterbacks can run with the ball. They just don't, usually, because they would like to live.

I do not for one second regret taking blatant advantage of the fact that most teenage girls don't watch a lot of football, and I hope this kid doesn't regret this play, either. The "but you're taking advantage of someone's sportsmanship!" argument encourages kids to be uncreative victims who stand around complaining while other people work within the rules to solve their problems -- better to learn early that it's possible to win without repeating the exact same strategy everyone else always uses.
posted by vorfeed at 1:07 PM on November 9, 2010 [24 favorites]


Ender Wiggin seen making notes.
posted by The otter lady at 1:10 PM on November 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


The key to success, as always, is to look like a) you know what you're doing...
posted by The Card Cheat

Eponysterical!
Did I do it right?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:10 PM on November 9, 2010


So whose idea was it? QB or coach?
posted by gottabefunky at 1:10 PM on November 9, 2010


I hope the academy commended him for original thinking. Maybe he'll have a future beyond a standard redshirt.
posted by condour75 at 1:12 PM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


this whole thread and no one mentioned the kid who almost tackled him? that kid is the one to watch - look at the rest of the defense, no one picks up on it. but there's one lone guy near the sidelines that recognizes it just barely too late and takes off after the QB. while the touchdown still happened, that defense player should be praised for awareness and some hustle.

also: not cheating, not cheap, not horrible. kids have been playing full tackle at that age forever. i graduated 12 years ago and when i was in middle school i played in the band to tackle football - there were never any injuries more than a busted pinky. kids hurt themselves more going down to the local creek.
posted by nadawi at 1:12 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can we talk about how middle-schoolers are playing full-tackle football?

That's seriously Not Okay.


Playing tackle football in middle school is perhaps the only fond memory I have of organized sports throughout my entire life.
posted by Jairus at 1:13 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just remembered a trick play in soccer from the world cup. Here's a case where it almost worked.
posted by redyaky at 1:14 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's the deal with fancy little league plays? The ball goes wild aso often that I don't think I ever saw a kid get to second any way except stealing it. There was one kid on my son's team who stole so many bases he should have been up on racketeering charges. Tricking those poor pitchers is usually redundant.
posted by GuyZero at 1:15 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


time to throw out that famous sports saying "i'd rather be lucky than good".now we have "i'd rather be tricky than good". good post.
posted by tustinrick at 1:18 PM on November 9, 2010


To all the people congratulating the kid on his outside of the box thinking, you do know that it was the coach who came up with the play, right?
posted by Loto at 1:20 PM on November 9, 2010


Not a bullshit play. Not chickenshit. Not a dick move.

Competitive sports are a polite variation on fighting, where the aim is to win. They are polite, because there are rules that both sides agree to.

"Lying is the basis of fighting", my gung fu instructor, Dr. Wu, once said. He meant that every single move is an attempt to lie to your opponent. "I'm not going to punch you. Don't bother blocking." "I'm going to punch you. Don't look at my feet." "I'm going to punch you, and if you block it, you can relax. I'm definitely not telegraphing a punch in order to set up a 1-2."

All football plays are lies. Snap the ball and run forward, hoping the opposite team makes a hole for you to run through, and no one tackles you on the way, isn't a very good play.

This lie was more out of the ordinary than usual, but since it didn't break the rules, it was legal, creative, and frankly - brilliant.

It will only work once. Good for them.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:21 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of a trick play we did in college intramural flag football. A ball punted five yards was legal. We did it, ran it in for a TD. Called back. Ref goes down to the officiating shack to get a ruling and comes back "legal as hell, but I blew the whistle." cost us our season.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:35 PM on November 9 [+] [!]

to elaborate, we punted it 5 yards to our own guy, who ran it the length.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:36 PM on November 9 [+] [!]


Ironmouth- I think the referee was correct to call the play dead. When a team punts the ball, they are giving up possession of it. It's not a live ball (like a kickoff, where once it travels 10 yards either team can grab it and gain possession); as soon as the punter punts the ball, the ball belongs to the receiving team. The ony way the kicking team can get possession is if it touches a player on the receiving team (which is then technically a fumble). That's why you see members of the kicking team downing the ball after a punt. They can stop its progress but they cannot get possession for their team by catching it.
posted by Doohickie at 1:23 PM on November 9, 2010


Can we talk about how middle-schoolers are playing full-tackle football?

That's seriously Not Okay.


Nah, I think we should talk about train accidents instead.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:26 PM on November 9, 2010


The "but you're taking advantage of someone's sportsmanship!" argument encourages kids to be uncreative victims who stand around complaining while other people work within the rules to solve their problems -- better to learn early that it's possible to win without repeating the exact same strategy everyone else always uses.

High school, maybe. College and pros, definitely—take all the advantage you want. 10- and 12-year olds? You're just teaching them that adults can be enormous dicks.

Watch this and tell me what the defensive players are learning, other than the adults on the opposing sideline are utter assholes. Listen to them hooting and cheering and high-fiving their success at having fooled a bunch of kids. There's winning, and then there's pride in winning.

If an opposing coach did that to a youth team I was in charge of, there would be no post-game handshake.
posted by stargell at 1:27 PM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


monospace: "That's what you get for calling a game that allows you to pick up the ball "football."

Fun fact: Games called "football" around the world are distinguished not by the use of feet to move the ball but by the fact that players are on their feet instead of on horses. Games called football have been around since the middle ages, when playing a game on a sport was a lot more popular. As a result, "football" is the term used for whatever variety of game on foot is most popular in the country you happen to be standing in - what Americans call "soccer" is called football most places because it's the most popular non-horse game most places.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:27 PM on November 9, 2010 [18 favorites]


Could an official have called this back as "unsportsmanlike conduct" if they'd been so inclined? Or does that only provide for a penalty to be applied after the play?
posted by tyllwin at 1:27 PM on November 9, 2010


Inevitably, I'm left to wonder why runners with the ball slow down to look behind them. Isn't just putting your head down and getting it done as quickly as possible the optimal strategy? If a defender is a faster runner than you there is nothing you're going to be able to do anyway.
posted by maxwelton at 1:27 PM on November 9, 2010


Meh. The wide receiver should have been barking like a dog.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:33 PM on November 9, 2010


Not a bullshit play. Not chickenshit. Not a dick move.

They're kids. I played Little League in leagues that wouldn't allow trickery until you reached a certain age/skill bracket, because if you allow base-stealing for a bunch of 8-year-olds, every throw from the catcher to 2nd base will be too late to tag out the runner. Similarly, 12-year-olds lack the killer instinct of college player or professionals, and are thus more likely to be staring vacantly into space or picking their noses. This kind of thing is more likely to work against them, but that doesn't absolve the coach of accusations of dickery for trying it.

Competitive sports are a polite variation on fighting, where the aim is to win. They are polite, because there are rules that both sides agree to.

Dude. They're 12 years old. It's not Thunderdome.
posted by Mayor West at 1:33 PM on November 9, 2010 [9 favorites]



Could an official have called this back as "unsportsmanlike conduct" if they'd been so inclined?


If the dude spiked the ball and like, did backflips and shit after he scored, sure. But it would be applied on the next play.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 1:35 PM on November 9, 2010


Ha! I don't give a damn about football, but this is hilarious.
posted by brundlefly at 1:35 PM on November 9, 2010


High school, maybe. College and pros, definitely—take all the advantage you want. 10- and 12-year olds? You're just teaching them that adults can be enormous dicks.

Watch this and tell me what the defensive players are learning, other than the adults on the opposing sideline are utter assholes. Listen to them hooting and cheering and high-fiving their success at having fooled a bunch of kids. There's winning, and then there's pride in winning.


Yes, well, adults can be enormous dicks, even to children. 12 is more than old enough to learn that you can't trust everyone, especially if they happen to be competing against you. And there is nothing wrong with pride in winning. What, were they supposed to run a trick play, score a touchdown, and then refuse to cheer in order to shame the kid who scored?
posted by vorfeed at 1:36 PM on November 9, 2010


We had a play on my middle school flag football team where we'd line up on offense and our quarterback would say "all right, relax. Checkhike!" For those who don't know, checkhike is a practice hike. It was probably more of a playground term, not an official part of the game. The other team would relax, and we would run a play, and usually score a touchdown. It didn't take long for other teams to catch on, and soon the league made that play illegal.
posted by hooha at 1:39 PM on November 9, 2010


If an opposing coach did that to a youth team I was in charge of, there would be no post-game handshake.

Kids also need to learn how to lose (or tie) with grace. That would set a piss-poor example.

I've coached an away basketball game on a linoleum-tile church floor where one (non-state-certified) referee called 7 fouls on our two best players in the first 2 minutes. We got screwed, lost to a much shittier team (we were shitty too), and I still shook the other coach's hand.

I've been at away basketball games where the home scorer deliberately fudged the scorebook to add or subtract points or take fouls away from their best players. (We caught them once!) I still shook the team's hands.

Some things are more important than winning and losing. Shaking hands after the game is one of them. Unless the other team deliberated tried to hurt your team physically, I see no reason not to shake hands with even the most despicable foes.

I played Little League in leagues that wouldn't allow trickery until you reached a certain age/skill bracket, because if you allow base-stealing for a bunch of 8-year-olds, every throw from the catcher to 2nd base will be too late to tag out the runner.

Base stealing isn't "trickery" but yes. Obviously. Any problem with the rules should be addressed by the league. If they don't want this shit to happen, make a rule against it. They certainly might now.

To all the people congratulating the kid on his outside of the box thinking, you do know that it was the coach who came up with the play, right?

Designing the play requires little thought. Pulling it off? That kid was smooooooth.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:42 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


When I was in middle school, we used to play capture the flag in PE. I discovered that it was rather easy to get to the enemy team's flag if I calmly walked over to it rather than running, as everyone assumed I'd been tagged out and was heading to the jail zone. Eventually the other kids started complaining, and I think a rule was made that "Nathan is not allowed to walk while on the opposing team's side of the field and not tagged out."
posted by NMcCoy at 1:42 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


dude, if my kid's team scored on this play, i'd go bananas.

shit, if my kid's opponent's team scored on this play, i'd go bananas.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 1:42 PM on November 9, 2010


Almost a hundred comments and no one has invoked Godwin yet?

I'll give you a clue: Neville looks resplendent in his satin purple tights.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:50 PM on November 9, 2010


The "but you're taking advantage of someone's sportsmanship!" argument encourages kids to be uncreative victims who stand around complaining while other people work within the rules to solve their problems -- better to learn early that it's possible to win without repeating the exact same strategy everyone else always uses.

Sometimes it's more fun to play games with people who focus less on doing everything they can to win and more on competing within the spirit of the game. Which is not to say that trick plays could never be within the spirit of the game, trickery can be a fundamental part of the game like it is in poker. But at a certain point the clever schemes of coaches are a lot less important than giving kids a chance to have fun playing a game.

The year my dad coached my little league team, he read the rule book cover to cover, and there was rarely a game that season that didn't involve some sort of 20 minute rules discussion between him and the umpire. In most of those cases he was actually right, the high school freshman doing the officiating didn't actually know the details of the infield fly rule or whatever and the call should have gone our way. But most of the actual kids playing the game would have traded those outs or runs for just being able to play the game without all of the rules lawyering. Metagaming is fine if everyone wants to play that way, but sometimes trying to game the rule system gets in the way of actually playing the game itself.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:51 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, well, adults can be enormous dicks, even to children. 12 is more than old enough to learn that you can't trust everyone, especially if they happen to be competing against you.

Yeah, sure. This is not the point of youth sports, though. At least not the ones I'm involved in.

What, were they supposed to run a trick play, score a touchdown, and then refuse to cheer in order to shame the kid who scored?

Maybe so as not to humiliate the kids on the other team? The youth soccer league in which I coach and referee has a policy of "encouraging applause OK, loud cheering and screaming from the sidelines not OK." It's not completely enforceable but when it works—we occasionally have Silent Saturdays, where there is no sound at all from the parents—it's kinda great for everyone involved.
posted by stargell at 1:53 PM on November 9, 2010


While I can't tell what rules regime this particular game was played under, it may be relevant to link to the 2010 NFHS Football Rules book. The relevant part is Rule 7 ("Snapping, Handing and Passing the Ball"), starting on page 56. Like the NFL rules, there is a prohibition against moving forward during the snap: "Only one A player may be in motion at the snap and then only if such motion is not toward his opponent's goal line", Rule 7-3, Section 2, Article 7.

However, I can't easily tell if "in motion" refers to any motion whatsoever or only to the case where the player is actually moving his entire body towards the other goal line. The NFL example that Plutor described indicates the most egregious case of advancing forward. The NCAA rules are much more clear. They provide examples where they distinguish between moving sideways while bent over at the waist (legal) and moving sideways while bending over at the waist (illegal).
posted by mhum at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2010


I learned that assholes will scam you and cheat you any way they can in Ultima Online. It hurt at the time, but in real life I've never lost cash to Amway or Herbalife or the Nigerian 419 crowd.

My favorite memory of pee-wee football aside from that one undefeated season was that one game where we were down 21 points and our QB faked an injury to get us an extra time out. It didn't help at all, but we cheered the hell out of him for his acting job. Great teambuilding moment.

The fact is, if you view team sports as a character building endeavor, you have to understand that sometimes you build character by losing, and sometimes by winning. Sometimes by pulling off a great play, and sometimes by getting your ass kicked. Sometimes you outsmart the other guys, sometimes they make you look like chumps.

Everybody gets a trophy in the end, but not every day.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:54 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The last season I played town league baseball, the teams played by nearly full major league rules (the exceptions, IIRC: how often you could pitch, not a full 9 innings, everyone batted). That year, my team had no dedicated coaches/managers. Instead, my dad and another dad used that to our benefit by teaching us how to run a baseball team - we did our own line ups, kept score, agreed on strategy, made signals etc.

Since we didn't get the same allotment of pitchers as a typical team, we had outfielders pitching (which included me, much to my dismay). An inexperienced pitcher gets bases stolen out from under him. So my team introduced the Hidden Ball Trick to the league. We pulled it off so well that even the umpire didn't see it until the first baseman got his attention. He was so polite - he walked up to the runner and tapped him on the shoulder with the ball and said, "excuse me, but you're out." all while I was pretending to get my composure Then got the umpire's attention. Yeah, they didn't steal on us quite so much after that. It's part of the game, just like taking advantage of an inexperienced pitcher to steal bases.

We also took advantage of the fact that for whatever reason, one of our players, Jeff, had the highest on-base percentage due to either being walked or HIT. Seriously, his batting average was craptastic, but he got hit so many times that we were obliged to make hit lead-off and encouraged him to crowd the plate.
posted by plinth at 1:57 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we talk about how middle-schoolers are playing full-tackle football?

worth noting: due to the eloquent trickiness of this particular play, there were no hits, no tackles, no contacts of any kind ... except one little elbow near the goal line that wouldn't even get called in hockey, and then the obligatory celebratory pile-on.
posted by philip-random at 2:01 PM on November 9, 2010


Plutor: "According to a great reddit comment, this would have been an illegal play in the NFL. The QB moves to receive the "snap", which is a violation of Rule 7, Section 2, Article 6:
At the snap, all offensive players must be stationary in their positions:

(a) without any movement of feet, head, or arms;

(b) without swaying of body; and

(c) without moving directly forward except that one player only and he, playing in a backfield position, may be in motion provided he is moving, parallel to, obliquely backward from, or directly backward from the line of scrimmage at snap.

Note 1: No player is ever permitted to be moving obliquely or directly forward toward his opponent’s goal line at snap.

Note 2: Non-abrupt movement of head and/or shoulders by offensive players prior to the snap is legal. Players must come to a stop before ball is snapped. If officials judge the action of the offensive players to be abrupt, false start foul is to be called.

Penalty: For player illegally in motion at snap: Loss of five yards from previous spot. In case of doubt, this penalty shall be enforced.
"

I think this is legal. The key phrase here is "At the snap." The snap happens when the center lifts the ball. No one is moving until he lifts it over his head. THen the qb gets it and starts marking off 5 yards. The nose tackle easily could have grabbed the ball if he knew to at that age.

I coach a lot of youth sports. I would not run this play unless we were down by a lot of points and I wanted to give the kids a bit of fun in a shellacking. IF the opposing coach pulled it on me while ahead, I would have a discussion with her after the game. I can guarantee that every player on that field including the ones on the sideline will be talking about that for the rest of their lives.

posted by AugustWest at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2010


Also, apparently the NFL, NCAA, and NFHS rulesets all have clauses that disallow the use of the substitution procedure to confuse or deceive opponents. Presumably, this is an explicit repudiation of the "Hide-out Receiver" trick play.
posted by mhum at 2:03 PM on November 9, 2010


"1915: Cardinals player-manager Miller Huggins used a ploy to get a runner home with 2 outs in the 7th inning of a tied game. Huggins, coaching at third, shouted to Brooklyn rookie pitcher Ed Appleton, "Let me see that ball!" Appleton, apparently one to respect his elders, tossed the ball Huggins' way and watched in shock as Huggins stepped aside while the ball flew past him and the go-ahead run scored."

The more things change. . . .
posted by Danf at 2:05 PM on November 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


worth noting: due to the eloquent trickiness of this particular play, there were no hits, no tackles, no contacts of any kind

Right, but if one defensive player had caught on (as here) there'd be a chance for a pretty hard hit on an entirely unprotected ball carrier.
posted by stargell at 2:05 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


interview with tom brady after sunday's game -

Did you watch the [opponents] sideline celebration [...] do you think they went a little overboard?

When you play well, you can do whatever you want, as far as I'm concerned. If we wanted to kind of calm them down, we could have done that by playing a hell of a lot better.
posted by nadawi at 2:05 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


In most of those cases he was actually right, the high school freshman doing the officiating didn't actually know the details of the infield fly rule or whatever and the call should have gone our way.

If you don't know the infield fly rule by high school, you shouldn't be playing, much less officiating. It's not exactly an arcane intricacy of the game. It protects the offense from the defense "accidentally" dropping an easy catch, and I'm pretty sure I understood that at 10.
posted by explosion at 2:06 PM on November 9, 2010


If they don't want this shit to happen, make a rule against it. They certainly might now.

Baseball has a simpler method--pull some dumb shit, somebody's getting plunked. It's primitive, but it prevents every sports rulebook from expanding to the size of the United States Code.
posted by Nahum Tate at 2:10 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I did trick plays in Scrabble all the time. For instance, instead of playing "toes" I would play the equally legal "roes." My opponent would think it looked odd and challenge, and lose a turn. After doing this a few times, I could play just about any plausible-looking phony I wanted.
posted by bovious at 2:12 PM on November 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I hate seeing these sorts of trick plays in youth football (at that stage, I think its more important to learn the physical mechanics of the game), but if I was the coach of the opposing team, I would use this as a teaching moment in practice the next week about why you need to pay attention on the field. There was no excuse for the safeties and DB's to be caught off guard like that. The D-Line & the LB's? Sure, I can see them getting fooled. but once the QB is NOT MOVING TOWARDS HIS SIDELINE after walking past the D-Line, SOMEBODY should have come up and at least wrapped him up (not a full-on lay-him-out tackle, but just wrap your arms around him) until the whistle was blown.
posted by KingEdRa at 2:13 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Internet (or at least "the Internet as I read it outside of Metafilter") was in love with this post yesterday and I hated it for all the many reasons that have been said here.

It is hilarious to watch, but anybody who has played (or cares about) American football has to, at least, be able to imagine the absolute suck

I normally call bullshit on the "gentleman's agreements"* that are far too common in sports (like all the bullshit unwritten rules that populate baseball) -- but there's something about this that just feels wrong on 100 different levels -- one of which would be it would be an awesome play to run on a college or pro team, but it's a shit move for a middle school.


But similar agreements are why rugby is a great sport that will never catch on in America. And I love rugby. So I contain multitudes.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:14 PM on November 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uhh yeah, these kids are old enough to know their are no circumstances in which the opposing QB spots the ball instead of the ref. At the very least, get up and follow him instead of standing still.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:15 PM on November 9, 2010


Cool Papa Bell: "Awesome to be the kid.

Really, really sucks to be on the other end of it, though. I mean, the coach that designed the play is doing nothing less than preying on the maturity levels of his opponents. Legal, but feels cheap. ...

In Little League, we had a play where, if runners were at first and third with no outs or one out, the runner on first would start hooting, hollering, dancing and walking toward second base. Invariably, the confused pitcher would start going after him for a rundown, and forget there was a runner on third that could bolt home. Bang, a "free" run, and sometimes, in the confusion, the runner on first wouldn't be caught either.
"

It's not football, but a variant of this play happened in baseball's playoffs this year. In Game 2 of the American League Championship Series (Yankees @ Rangers), Texas' Josh Hamilton stands on 1st and Elvis Andrus on 3rd with two outs. Hamilton breaks for 2nd after the pitch. The Yankee catcher reacts instantly, but Hamilton stops midway between the bases, confusing the defense long enough for Andrus to steal home. Here's a video of the play.
posted by fireoyster at 2:16 PM on November 9, 2010


their/there might still be confusing though.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:16 PM on November 9, 2010


August West: The key phrase here is "At the snap." The snap happens when the center lifts the ball.

According to the NFHS Rule Book,
Art. 2 The snap begins when the snapper first moves the ball legally other than in adjustment. In a snap, the movememnt must be a quick and continuous backward motion of the ball [...]
Art. 3 The snap ends when the ball touches the ground or any player.
According to the NCAA Rule Book, (Rule 2-23, Section 23, Article 1b) "The snap starts when the ball is moved legally and ends when the ball leaves the snapper's hands".

These seem to indicate that a snap is not an instantaneous event but rather occupies a non-infinitesimal amount of time.
posted by mhum at 2:23 PM on November 9, 2010


The only problem I have with the play is that the snap was wrong. It doesn't go through the center's legs.

There is no rule that states a snap must go through a center's legs. It must be one smooth motion from the ground to the quarterback.

The problem with this particular trick play is that no one on the line moved besides the center. That is an illegal snap.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 2:29 PM on November 9, 2010


We've been hearing so much recently about the long term effects that concussions have on the brains of former NFL players, but won't the effect be that much stronger when these kids are hitting each other before their bodies/brains are even fully developed?

Please tell me there is a large number of people uneasy about middle schoolers playing tackle football.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 2:36 PM on November 9, 2010


We have been hearing about how people get hurt brains when they box George Foreman, but what about when they box my eight year old nephew?

Seriously though it's a derail, please shut up about it or do an FPP about football injuries. Kids playing football is not a widely controversial issue in the US.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:40 PM on November 9, 2010


the teams played by nearly full major league rules (the exceptions, IIRC: how often you could pitch, not a full 9 innings, everyone batted).

Emphasis mine. That's how real baseball is played. I like the Rangers, but in general NL > AL precisely because of the stupid DH.
posted by kmz at 2:41 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


In Pop Warner, we also had a tackle eligible play that always caught people off guard.

In the NFL, you have to tell the ref that you have an eligible tackle, who then announces it on the PA. In the NCAA, you simply can't do it -- OTs are required to wear jersey numbers 50-79, and those numbers are *never* eligible receivers.

I think you can't even do it in most high school games anymore, after the A-11 formation rule changes.
posted by eriko at 2:43 PM on November 9, 2010


If you're playing football, even in middle school, you should know only the referee should be moving the ball. Also, they do not have to "level" him, they can simply restrain him if he's just moseying past you. If you're wrong, the officials will let you know in a hurry. I endorse this play, including at this age range.
posted by mreleganza at 2:47 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Re: youth football

Pop Warner football and similar leagues divide kids by weight classes, not age. It's as safe as, say, youth soccer or youth baseball. Like anything, you're in more danger driving to and from the football field.

That said, there are no weight restrictions at the high school level, and age restrictions apply only in one direction -- a freshman can play on the varsity (senior) team, but the reverse is not true. Moreover, the division is generally by grade, not age. You occasionally see the going-on-19 mutant freak squaring off against the 14-year-old lucky-to-be-here kid. That's not exactly happy-happy.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:06 PM on November 9, 2010


Dick move. The coach has admitted that it was his idea. This means that an adult has punked a bunch of middle schoolers, causing them heartbreak and making them look silly in order to win (tie?!) a game. That, friends, is the maneuver of a penis.

Great sales job by the kid though.
posted by GodricVT at 3:08 PM on November 9, 2010


That quarterback is a spy!
posted by crawl at 3:11 PM on November 9, 2010


This lie was more out of the ordinary than usual, but since it didn't break the rules, it was legal, creative, and frankly - brilliant.

And, much like the rule about the Hidden Ball Trick in baseball*, this one is easy to beat by just following a fundamental rule. If the center goes set with his hand on the ball and he then moves the ball, that's a snap, the ball is in play! and you play until you hear the whistles.

Ignore whatever the QB, or anybody else, is doing so long as the center has his hands on the ball and has come set, because he might snap the ball. If he stands up with the ball, tackle him. If he moves the ball, then leaves it on the ground, *jump on it*. If he moves the ball and stops, hit him anyway, but he should get flagged for an illegal snap.

So, yes, a trick play, but *trivial* to defeat.


* Do not take a lead off a base until the pitcher steps on the rubber. Period.
posted by eriko at 3:12 PM on November 9, 2010


Yeah, sure. This is not the point of youth sports, though. At least not the ones I'm involved in.
Maybe so as not to humiliate the kids on the other team? The youth soccer league in which I coach and referee has a policy of "encouraging applause OK, loud cheering and screaming from the sidelines not OK." It's not completely enforceable but when it works—we occasionally have Silent Saturdays, where there is no sound at all from the parents—it's kinda great for everyone involved.


If you ask me, any league that actually bans "loud cheering and screaming from the sidelines" has missed the point of youth sports. They're supposed to be youth sports, not an all-affirming self-esteem exercise. Learning to handle feeling frustrated or humiliated is a major part of sport, as is learning how to win and lose in a competitive environment. 12 is not too young to learn these lessons, especially since being able to deal with failure starts really affecting a kid's ability to succeed at around that age.

Besides, the idea that cheering (as opposed to booing or heckling) counts as "humiliating the other team" seems a bit much. I also challenge the idea that never experiencing that one shining moment where [you/your teammate] have got the ball and everyone (including Mom and/or Dad!) is yelling and screaming for [you/your team] is "kinda great for everyone involved". Youth sports should be an opportunity for kids to feel this way -- it's these moments which teach the love of sport and physical activity, more than a hundred years of bland, non-"humiliating" participation ever could.
posted by vorfeed at 3:15 PM on November 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


By all means, let us instill in the next generation an appreciation for being sneaky and getting away with it.

It's a fuckin' game. The move was legal and the touchdown stood. Good for quarterback Jason Garza -- using more 'brain' than 'brawn!'
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on November 9, 2010


Another 'sneaky' move: how about when "in Super Bowl XLIV. the New Orleans Saints orchestrated a surprise onside kick, which turned the tide of the game."*
posted by ericb at 3:24 PM on November 9, 2010


a freshman can play on the varsity (senior) team, but the reverse is not true. Moreover, the division is generally by grade, not age. You occasionally see the going-on-19 mutant freak squaring off against the 14-year-old lucky-to-be-here kid. That's not exactly happy-happy.

I have no idea what you are talking about.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:25 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


So whose idea was it? QB or coach?
"The play, created by assistant coach John Delosantos, has gone viral and has even touched off some discussion as to whether it was fair play. 'It was a legal snap, there was nobody else in motion...it was essentially just a quaterback sneak, but a really slow quarterback sneak,' Delosantos told CNN."*
posted by ericb at 3:26 PM on November 9, 2010


The coach has admitted that it was his idea. This means that an adult has punked a bunch of middle schoolers

No, he punked their coach who never taught them that the opposing QB isn't allowed to spot the ball.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:29 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


CNN: Middle school quarterback on trick play: 'I didn't think it was going to work'.

Video of interview with quarterback Jason Garza and assistant coach John Delosantos.
posted by ericb at 3:30 PM on November 9, 2010


Metafilter: You can usually get away with squeezing a guy's nuts in the pile, too.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 3:38 PM on November 9, 2010


> Sometimes it's more fun to play games with people who focus less on doing everything they can to win and more on competing within the spirit of the game.

Sure. Then don't keep score. Being a championship game and all, I think trying to win was kinda the point.
posted by davelog at 3:39 PM on November 9, 2010


Another 'sneaky' move: how about when "in Super Bowl XLIV. the New Orleans Saints orchestrated a surprise onside kick, which turned the tide of the game."*

Heh. I don't like Football, but that was entertaining as heck to watch. The progression from confusion to panic to anger by the Colts is priceless. (Also, check out that guy who dove for the pile-on, missed, and proceeded to skid down the field for 10 yards)
posted by schmod at 3:41 PM on November 9, 2010


Funny, but this is why (some) sports suck.

There's a big difference between sports as exploiting legal loopholes vs. sports as finding holes in your opponent's game. In the first, you're just being a lawyer - forget the spirit of the game, all that matters is the letter of the law and what you can get away with.

In the second, you're actually competing.

The longer it takes to understand the rules, the worse the game. Baseball, football, and yeah, you too accounting - I'm looking at all of you.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 3:44 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are wacky plays every week in the CFL, but this year I saw one I'd never seen before: a faked safety touch.
posted by Sauce Trough at 3:45 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Inevitably, I'm left to wonder why runners with the ball slow down to look behind them...if a defender is a faster runner than you there is nothing you're going to be able to do anyway.

A well-timed cut can be the final move necessary to shake a pursuer, especially one who is going all-out trying to prevent you from scoring. A lot of long scoring plays don't take a straight direct-line path to the endzone.

When I played football, I was always the all-out-pursuer
posted by Sauce Trough at 3:54 PM on November 9, 2010


The position where the referee is standing was totally key to this plays success. Notice how he's standing right behind the line, so that the quarterback is talking past everyone, and in order to get within talking distance of the ref he has already walked behind most of the defensive players. It was well-performed too, most of the play was done before anyone had any time to think about what was going on.

I played rugby in high school and, compared to American football, the whole sport is about "trick plays." You're constantly faking lateral passes to your teammates, or using various types of drop kicks or grubbers to psych out the opposing players.
I remember there was a specific rule that one of the South African players on our team would always take advantage of, where a player from the opposition would pick up and put down the ball while everyone was still getting in formation. After that happens the ball is technically in play and this guy would always charge in and grab the ball and have it past the try line before anybody else had any idea what was going on. I think that particular move may have had more to do with our cultural lack of familiarity with the rules as Americans though, since the first time he pulled it he had to explain why it was legal even to the refs.
posted by Demogorgon at 3:55 PM on November 9, 2010


play's, damn it
posted by Demogorgon at 3:57 PM on November 9, 2010


Inevitably, I'm left to wonder why runners with the ball slow down to look behind them...if a defender is a faster runner than you there is nothing you're going to be able to do anyway.

It's rarely a straight-line race. The pursuer is often attacking from an angle. By modifying your own angle toward the end zone (which itself may be at an angle to you, depending on where you start), you can delay the pursuer's arrival at a position where he can tackle you. And you need to know where your pursuer is in order to do this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:11 PM on November 9, 2010


Another 'sneaky' move: how about when "in Super Bowl XLIV. the New Orleans Saints orchestrated a surprise onside kick, which turned the tide of the game.

dude, i lit roman candles on my front porch when that shit went down. no lie. Louisiana native reprazent!
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:00 PM on November 9, 2010


legal != moral
posted by DU at 5:14 PM on November 9, 2010


Inevitably, I'm left to wonder why runners with the ball slow down to look behind them...if a defender is a faster runner than you there is nothing you're going to be able to do anyway.

I am not a football playing person, but I was aces at tag, and this is wrong. If you can do a sharp turn at high speeds it's actually bad for the pursuer if the person is faster than you are, because by the time they've turned to follow you again they are several feet past you while you dance on the home base chanting olly-olly-oxen-free.

In my casual observance of football games it appears that skill translates well into running about with the ball.
posted by winna at 5:41 PM on November 9, 2010


seriously? some of your are actually arguing that since the coach called the play it's somehow more suspect or wrong? who do you guys think usually come up with and call plays at this level? hell, quite a few NFL QBs don't call most of their own plays.
posted by nadawi at 5:47 PM on November 9, 2010


Inevitably, I'm left to wonder why runners with the ball slow down to look behind them

I like when they look at the Jumbotron.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:20 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can usually get away with squeezing a guy's nuts in the pile, too.

But not always.
posted by Balonious Assault at 6:25 PM on November 9, 2010


I remember there was a specific rule that .... I think that particular move may have had more to do with our cultural lack of familiarity with the rules as Americans though, since the first time he pulled it he had to explain why it was legal even to the refs.

I haven't seen anything like that from playing when I was in secondary school, or watching international rugby on and off. I think traditionally in England that sort of lawyering is severely looked down upon. The particular form of cheating which is tacitly accepted, at least at the professional level, is violence that the referee doesn't see. In particular the dark arts of forward play and scrummaging, getting in punches and stamps, and sometimes collapsing the scrum, which can be very dangerous (given that the whole thing is held together by intertwined necks).

A good parallel to the opening video, of fairly innocent abuse of the rules, is the recent 'bloodgate' scandal in rugby union. Players are allowed to substituted temporarily to be patched up if they sustain a blood wound, so in order to bring on a specialist kicker (temporary tactical subsititutions are not allowed), Tom Watson of Harlequins smuggled a fake blood capsule onto the pitch in his sock, and bit on it at the appropriate moment. He couldn't resist winking at his coach while staggering off (37s).
posted by Marlinspike at 6:35 PM on November 9, 2010


As an outsider the most facinating thing in all of this is the uproar "running of the score" seems to cause around here, but that this is generally seen as fine (allowing of course for the fact the metafilter isn't a single person with a single opinion). Both are legal, but possibly insporting.

So are their people here who thought this was fine but would have a problem if one side had run up the score? Why?
posted by markr at 6:42 PM on November 9, 2010


Maybe so as not to humiliate the kids on the other team? The youth soccer league in which I coach and referee has a policy of "encouraging applause OK, loud cheering and screaming from the sidelines not OK." It's not completely enforceable but when it works—we occasionally have Silent Saturdays, where there is no sound at all from the parents—it's kinda great for everyone involved.

This is one of the most pathetic, sad things I have ever read. I'm glad my children were not 'helped' by this kind of....I don't even know what to call it...astonishingly misguided nonsense. Why play at all? Just find non-competitive things for your little precious bags of self-esteem and DNA to do if the idea of competition tears at your little soft parts like that. Good lord, is there no bottom to this chickens**t hand-holding nanny crap... ?
posted by umberto at 6:45 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


legal != moral

I don't get the outrage over this. Did this kid run off with people's perspective and common sense, as well?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:54 PM on November 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess I'm a little late to this party but I have a story about what it's like to be standing on the other side of someone taking advantage of the rules like that:

In my 12 year-old year in a little league playoff game I was pitching in the final inning with a 2 run lead. I was one of the better kids that year and threw the ball hard enough that most kids couldn't hit it and I think I had something like a hundred strikeouts in the 12 game season. I wasn't amazing or anything, most teams had a kid like me and the better team's just learned how to hit good pitching.

The first batter struck out without taking a swing and the next batter up was the opposing coach's son. Their coach called a time out and gathered his team around for a meeting that took so long that the umpire had to come over and break it up. The kid stepped into the batter's box with this smirky looking grin on his face and just as I began my windup he called a time out. The umpire stopped the pitch and made me start over. I threw a ball. I got set again for the next pitch and just as I started my wind up the kid called another time out. Again the umpire stopped the pitch and made me start over. Each pitch was the same thing the player would wait until I had just started my windup to call a time out and make me start over. I walked the kid on four pitches and the next batter did the same thing and I walked him too.

I remember my dad quickly figured out what was going on and came to talk to me on the mound. He told me they we're trying to get in my head and to just try my best to remain calm, ignore them, and think about my pitching mechanics. I managed to throw a strike to the next batter before walking him. With the bases loaded the best hitter on their team came up and I thought 'great at least now they'll try and hit a ball' nope he did the exact same thing.

When I walked in the first run I started to cry. I remember thinking that I really didn't want all these kids I went to school with to watch me cry so i tried holding my breath while tears rolled down my cheeks. But that only made it harder to pitch and I started to hyper ventilate so I stepped off the mound to try and collect myself. The opposing coach told the umpire I was stalling and they made me get back on the mound and pitch and I walked in another run.

Each time they scored their team went crazy and pretty soon their parents were chanting "Just One More!" "Just One More!". Like they were having this crazy comeback against some team of evil jerks. We lost the game when I walked in the third run and I just ran off the field and went and cried in my Dad's car for like fifteen minutes before he came and got me and made go shake hands with the other team's coach.

Nothing the other team did was against the rules of the game but to this day I can't believe that a 40+ coach was willing to do that to a 12 year old boy. And all I can think of when I watched the above video is how glad I am that youtube wasn't around back then and have one of the worst experiences of my life was watched by over 4 million people.
posted by trojanhorse at 7:04 PM on November 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Can we talk about how middle-schoolers are playing full-tackle football?

That's seriously Not Okay.

Little league and middle school football are the best time for kids to play football. They're too small and slow to do any damage, and at that age the pads are pretty much equal to their body weight. They're not really weaponized until high school.

Kids love trick plays. Being against trick plays because they "send the wrong message" is like being against birthday party magicians because they're teaching kids to accept sorcery. Lighten up. It freaks me out when people pretend kids are these little pure vessels, and if we can just keep them from ever seeing what the world is really like they'll just ascend straight up to heaven as innocent as the day they were born.

When I played pee-wee football, our coach taught us to tackle the hell out of anything that crossed the line of scrimmage. This wasn't to thwart trick plays. It was because at that age, sometimes you forget what you're supposed to do, and sometimes when there's a another guy running full speed in your direction, it's easy to give in to the instinctual part of your brain that says "get out of the way!" Or maybe somebody farted and it was really, really funny.

Which is probably the best message for parents getting too het up about kids and sports. It really is 90% "somebody farted" and if you try and chew a whole bag of big league chew at once, you will probably puke, and then Oscar didn't know what a cup was so we tricked him into thinking it was to help your breathing and he wore his jockstrap on his face until the coach yelled at him, and then we went out for pizza.

That trick play would not have worked against our team. If a leaf blew too forcefully across the line of scrimmage, we tackled it. Because the penalty for not tackling was running laps. i haven't tackled anyone in a long time, but I still have nightmares about running laps.

posted by billyfleetwood at 7:10 PM on November 9, 2010


Know what's funny? You could never do this play if it was a bunch of kids on the playground. This play works solely because there's a hierarchal authority structure that these kids have been coached to obey and appeal to (coaches, refs) whenever there's a question of procedure on the field. You remove the adults from the eqaution and the kids will form a concensus about what sort of plays are legal and illegal, where the ball should be spotted, etc. Trick plays like this aren't about who is the better athelete but about who is the craftier coach.

Fucking adults. They ruin everything.
posted by KingEdRa at 7:33 PM on November 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


There are wacky plays every week in the CFL, but this year I saw one I'd never seen before: a faked safety touch.

Why would this work? Is it a tactic in cfl to intentionally take a safety instead of punting?
posted by meadowlark lime at 8:34 PM on November 9, 2010



As an outsider the most facinating thing in all of this is the uproar "running of the score" seems to cause around here, but that this is generally seen as fine (allowing of course for the fact the metafilter isn't a single person with a single opinion). Both are legal, but possibly insporting.

So are their people here who thought this was fine but would have a problem if one side had run up the score? Why?


Running up the score, pretty much by definition, is only possible when the outcome of the game is long decided. Hence, it does not help you win. There's no substantial benefit to be derived from it.

Trick plays usually happen in close games, as it did here, and actually may help you win. That's the difference.
posted by mreleganza at 9:10 PM on November 9, 2010


Why would this work? Is it a tactic in cfl to intentionally take a safety instead of punting?

Yes it is. Because the goalposts in the CFL are on the goal line rather than the end line, a punt from out of your own end zone pretty much guarantees the return team will already be in field goal range when they take over.
posted by mreleganza at 9:11 PM on November 9, 2010


trojanhorse, it's probably a few years too late, but it's a shame your dad didn't talk to the umpire about the frequent time-out requests. Maybe your little league was different, but it's common for time-outs to be granted purely at the discretion of the umpire. In fact, MLB rules state that time-outs are not to be called if the pitcher is set or has started their wind-up. Your umpire was much too lenient in letting every batter you faced get away with all those requests.

It's unfortunate that everyone got into your head and shook up your confidence, but in an alternate universe it might have been best to listen to your dad instead of focusing on the fact that the other team was picking on you. I've had my fair share of moments where a general lack of awareness and low self-confidence cost me a few shots at sporting glory. Yeah, those were times I really wanted to just sit and cry and hope that someone would take pity, sympathize, and damn it make the other guys play the game the right way. But as my dad and coaches would eventually tell me, I had to suck it up and work harder. Stand up, wipe the snot from my nose, and pay attention.

For the defense on that trick play, hopefully they learned that lesson such that they won't be caught unawares for the rest of their sporting days. I don't consider trick plays that are well-within the allowable rule set to be dickish moves, no matter the age group; rather they're learning opportunities and shining examples of what happens when you don't maintain focus, aren't paying attention, or don't understand the situation. Better to have it happen on a playing field than in a place where the consequences can be a little more serious.
posted by CancerMan at 9:12 PM on November 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, squeezing nuts is legal?
posted by dirtdirt at 12:37 PM on November 9

Same as in town.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:55 PM on November 9


Good news for Danny.
posted by blueberry at 9:23 PM on November 9, 2010


Nothing the other team did was against the rules of the game but to this day I can't believe that a 40+ coach was willing to do that to a 12 year old boy.

This situation is why they invented the bean ball. The second dude to try that shit would have gotten one in the numbers if he tried it against my team.
posted by Justinian at 5:00 AM on November 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm a crazy hippie pacifist who hates the idea of kids playing tackle football and I thought this was FREAKING AWESOME.

Thanks thread for pointing out exactly how wrong I am.

(PS: Why we can't have nice things. See: This.)

Also: does no one else remember middle school? This is probably the least dickish thing that the kids on the team will deal with all week. Middle schoolers are awful to each other.
posted by sonika at 6:16 AM on November 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


This situation is why they invented the bean ball. The second dude to try that shit would have gotten one in the numbers if he tried it against my team.

"Say 'Time out' again. Say 'Time Out' again, I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker, say 'Time Out' one more Goddamn time!

This is why I teach my kid how to cheat as well as explaining why she shouldn't.
posted by fullerine at 6:30 AM on November 10, 2010


Running up the score, pretty much by definition, is only possible when the outcome of the game is long decided. Hence, it does not help you win. There's no substantial benefit to be derived from it.

posted by mreleganza

Unless you're discussing the BCS. But then again, I'm a bitter BSU alumnus.
posted by Nabubrush at 9:03 AM on November 10, 2010


Unless you're discussing the BCS. But then again, I'm a bitter BSU alumnus.

Seriously. I'm a Stanford alum and I was pretty embarrassed when they went for it on 4th-and-1 against Wake Forest, up 55-24 with 9 minutes to go.

That's minor-league football for you. A pro team up 55-24 in the 4th quarter would have their second string in and would definitely kick a field goal from the 19-yard line.

And come on, Pac-10--add BSU already. (Why Colorado?) BSU wrestling is already in the Pac-10, I believe. (I suppose the issue is basketball. And truckfuls of cash.)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:19 AM on November 10, 2010


I was always told that it doesn't matter how you win or lose, it's how you play the game. That particular play, was damn well played.

As for trojanhorse's story, well that's just ugly bullshit that should never have been allowed to play out. But it was. Brings to mind a 12 year old memory of mine. I was on a shit-hot rep hockey team at the time who, in a tournament in an unnamed British Columbia small town, had the temerity to soundly thump the local heroes in the semi-final game. We didn't run up the score or anything (final was 5-1, as I remember) but we did have two brothers on our team who were, shall we say, a little on the ungentlemanly side (actually, a lot ungentlemanly, but that's is a whole other story).

Anyway, come the final, us against another out-of-town-team, the arena was packed with 3000-plus locals who HATED us and let it show from the moment we stepped on the ice with a chorus of boos and invective that I can still sort of hear. It was ugly, and scary and we, eleven and twelve year old boys from a nice Vancouver suburb, crumbled, particularly our goalie. Five minutes into the game, they scored on him from center ice. And that was that. We lost 9-2 (as I recall) and actually had to get snuck out of the arena afterword by our various dads and chaperones.

Were we all innocent angels who'd never done anything bad our whole lives? God no. Like I said, those two brothers were particularly memorable "pieces-of-work". But they were only 11+12. And the vast majority of people in that arena were adults throwing down wave after wave of ugliness that far exceeded anything they could have mustered. So unlike trojanhorse, I find myself looking back on it now wishing we did have Youtube then (1972), so the sheer root nastiness of those locals would be immortalized. As it is, I just carry the memory and allow it to inform me whenever I hear folks whinging and complaining about how bad and uncivil folks have become here in 21st Century. Same as it ever was.
posted by philip-random at 9:46 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm, my understanding is that part of the issue with joining the Pac-10 is BSU's shameful graduation rate (although they do have many non-trad students, their graduation rate even when limited to the football team is still very low).
posted by Nabubrush at 10:00 AM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is one of the most pathetic, sad things I have ever read. I'm glad my children were not 'helped' by this kind of....I don't even know what to call it...astonishingly misguided nonsense. Why play at all? Just find non-competitive things for your little precious bags of self-esteem and DNA to do if the idea of competition tears at your little soft parts like that. Good lord, is there no bottom to this chickens**t hand-holding nanny crap... ?

The idea is that, with minimal input from the sidelines, the kids are playing the games for themselves and learning it by themselves. That makes them more self-reliant, not less. They're not performing for their parents. The "chicken-shit nanny crap" is the screaming parents and obsessive coaches living vicariously through their kids.
posted by stargell at 2:26 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW, there are 4,000 kids in this league, so it must be doing something right. Lighten up.
posted by stargell at 2:40 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


The idea is that, with minimal input from the sidelines, the kids are playing the games for themselves and learning it by themselves. That makes them more self-reliant, not less. They're not performing for their parents. The "chicken-shit nanny crap" is the screaming parents and obsessive coaches living vicariously through their kids.

Then why even have a league? If this is about kids learning to play games by themselves, for themselves, then send them out to play by themselves.

If, however, this is about an organized sporting league with 4000 players, then you may as well admit that a) organized sport is, actually, a performance in which b) the spectators cheer. The idea that the folks in the stand at Fenway are nannying the players and making them "less self-reliant, not more" is ridiculous... and so's this.
posted by vorfeed at 3:17 PM on November 10, 2010


Then why even have a league? If this is about kids learning to play games by themselves, for themselves, then send them out to play by themselves.

I wish. That's how I learned to play, and had the most fun. No parents, no coaches—just kids playing and sometimes even making up the rules as we went along. That just doesn't happen much these days, though, especially in a city where there's huge demand for limited field space. Organized leagues get the fields.

If, however, this is about an organized sporting league with 4000 players, then you may as well admit that a) organized sport is, actually, a performance in which b) the spectators cheer. The idea that the folks in the stand at Fenway are nannying the players and making them "less self-reliant, not more" is ridiculous... and so's this.

Your conclusions a) and b) do not follow from your premise whatsoever. For one, these kids are not playing at Fenway, for millions of dollars each, in front of paying spectators. Organized sport at the youth level is primarily a place for kids to learn the fundamentals of the game. Cheering from the sideline is not essential to that mission. The degree to which it contributes or detracts from the development is certainly a matter for discussion. But to conflate youth sports with what goes on at Fenway Park is ... ridiculous.
posted by stargell at 3:43 PM on November 10, 2010


For one, these kids are not playing at Fenway, for millions of dollars each, in front of paying spectators.

No, they're playing in a league of 4,000+ players, for their own pride and joy, in a particular field at a scheduled time, in front of what must be a reasonably large group of free spectators. You can pretend as if that's not a public performance, but I don't buy it. What these kids are doing is much closer to Fenway than it is to playing in the park... and this is soccer, so they most certainly could be playing on their own in the park with nothing but a ball, just as kids around the world do.

Besides, it's no different if you substitute a college game, or a high-school game, or an office softball game, or a pick-up game between friends with some other friends watching. How is "cheering from the sideline" not "essential to the mission" of learning to play games which traditionally include cheering whenever played in public?
posted by vorfeed at 4:11 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


this is soccer, so they most certainly could be playing on their own in the park with nothing but a ball, just as kids around the world do.

that's just very hard to do where we live.

How is "cheering from the sideline" not "essential to the mission" of learning to play games which traditionally include cheering whenever played in public?

Well, I didn't need any spectators to learn how to turn a double play or hit the cutoff man. Kids don't need parental input from the sidelines to learn how to play a through ball or turn a defender. A good coach helps, of course.

they're playing in a league of 4,000+ players, for their own pride and joy, in a particular field at a scheduled time, in front of what must be a reasonably large group of free spectators. You can pretend as if that's not a public performance, but I don't buy it.

It's a big league, with lots of teams, and ages ranging from 5 to 18. Most of the spectators for any particular game are parents. And my impression, from talking to people involve other leagues and anecdotally, is that we have fewer incidents of problem parents (and coaches), which in my mind is the ugliest aspect of youth sports.
posted by stargell at 4:43 PM on November 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Does cheering from the sideline teach a player how to run a pass route correctly? Does cheering from the sideline teach a player how to hold the ball correctly so as to minimize the risk of a turnover? I could go on and fucking on with more examples how unneccesary "cheering from the sidelines" is to playing football.

Now if you want to say that "cheering from the sidelines" is an important part of the public exhibition of football, then fine, yes, I agree. But then the playing of football as an athletic competiton by athletes becomes subordinate to watching of football as entertainment by spectators. That is why Coaching and Referees (and yes, rules lawyering) comes to dominate the game. The game becomes a product that must conform to the spectator's expectations of what football is and should be, not the players expectaions. Coaches, Refs, and standardized rules are primarily there to teach the players that they must conform to a set of expectations by people who are not a part of the action on the field of play. This is precisely why trick plays work. They exploit loopholes in the rules that players are taught to regard as sacrosant (or otherwise face punishement/penalties for breaking them). The spectators (and yes, often the players) are amused by the novelty of the trick play, but the play itself does NOTHING to help make the players better atheletes.

Don't get me wrong, I think there are a multitude of worthwhile lessons and teaching opportunities that can apply to football (and life outside of football as well) from trick plays and rules lawyering, but I think its important to recognize the differences between the playing of the game of football and the entertainment spectacle of watching football and for whose benefit that trick plays even exist. For all the bullshit that we go on about fair play, athleticism and good sportsmanship, once you throw spectators (and in the case of College & NFL PAYING spectators) into the mix all those high-minded ideals are thrown away and ALL that matters is winning. If it means taking advantage of the naievete of your opponnent, then by all means do so. Winning gets the victor money and/or fame, so the ends justify the means and that's what the game is all about amirite?

It's just not very sporting, that's all.

(and on preview, I've realized I've argued my way to the other side of where I was when I made my first comment in this thread. THESE BEANS ARE AWESOME!)
posted by KingEdRa at 5:27 PM on November 10, 2010


that's just very hard to do where we live.

So's cheering for your kid, apparently. Glad I don't live where you do.

Now if you want to say that "cheering from the sidelines" is an important part of the public exhibition of football, then fine, yes, I agree.

Yes, and a scheduled game in a 4,000+ player league is a public exhibition... as are all the league games these kids are going to be playing for the rest of their lives, whether in high school or rec-center intramurals. If you don't want rules and coaching and refs and cheering, don't play in a sporting league.
posted by vorfeed at 6:31 PM on November 10, 2010


That just doesn't happen much these days, though, especially in a city where there's huge demand for limited field space. Organized leagues get the fields.

I know that field space and open spaces in general are a major issue for lots of communities, but as a counter point, I see empty parks and fields in the East SF Bay area constantly.

I also see plenty of kids playing pickup football, soccer, and basketball. 99.9% of these kids (in a fairly integrated area per U.S. standards) are non-white. I don't know what that means.

For all the bullshit that we go on about fair play, athleticism and good sportsmanship, once you throw spectators (and in the case of College & NFL PAYING spectators) into the mix all those high-minded ideals are thrown away and ALL that matters is winning.

As a youth coach, I can honestly say that's not true. There is a big difference between teams where winning is the dominant goal and teams where teaching the game, learning fair play, and including everyone on the team are the goals. Of course college (semi-pro) and pro sports are different.

Parents know this going into the season. The ones who want uber-competitive kids in one sport join "traveling teams," the rest play AYSO.

The purpose of AYSO is to develop good soccer players and good people. Every player on every team must play 50% of the game, and they take pains to make sure all teams are evenly balanced.

It's up to the coach to police the parents of his team. If there are assholes yelling shit, the coach needs to get them to stop or get help. If you need to have rules to keep spectators from making noise, you have failed.

Anyway, I was finally coming back to say that, as smooooth as the kid was (which totally makes the play), I disagree with the original trick play in general. I honestly have no experience coaching football (I've coached soccer, basketball, baseball, and tennis), but in those other sports, teaching kids trick plays at that age is generally frowned upon, though it depends on the play.

The kids need to learn and perfect the fundamentals, and learn how to be a good sport. I generally think trick plays take away from the former more than the latter.

Of course, that doesn't mean I didn't teach my team how to bounce the basketball off an opponents' back on an inbounds pass. That's just good fun. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:07 AM on November 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


“They’re throwing the ball with seven seconds left instead of taking a knee there?” Ron Anello, the Clifton coach, said after last Friday’s game. “Come on, these are kids out there. Why embarrass them? But they’ve forgotten that because to them it’s a business.”
posted by stargell at 4:31 PM on November 11, 2010


But then the playing of football as an athletic competiton by athletes becomes subordinate to watching of football as entertainment by spectators. That is why Coaching and Referees (and yes, rules lawyering) comes to dominate the game. The game becomes a product that must conform to the spectator's expectations of what football is and should be, not the players expectaions. Coaches, Refs, and standardized rules are primarily there to teach the players that they must conform to a set of expectations by people who are not a part of the action on the field of play.

But what the hell does that have to do with cheering?. I mean, I think we agree there's a line to be drawn where the game isn't ruined or compromised by obnoxious, interfering parents with a gross of lack of perspective and priorities. But to say that CHEERING falls on the obnoxious side of the line is egregious and is what has most of us up in arms. Well me, anyway.
posted by mreleganza at 4:32 PM on November 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying that cheering in and of itself is obnoxious, but cheering doesn't make the players any better as athletes. It doesn't add anything to what the players are doing on the field.

What I'm trying to point out is that much of the structure of organized football exists for purposes other than the actual playing of the game by the athletes, and that sets the table for trick plays like this one to work (as they exploit weaknesses in the rules framework regarding who has authority on the field of play, etc). Football of the organized variety is spectacle as much as sport, and its rules, more than those of many other sports, are designed not only to ensure a consistently level playing field environment for the athletes, but also to ensure a consistent level of entertainment for the spectators.
posted by KingEdRa at 1:49 AM on November 12, 2010


But what the hell does that have to do with cheering?. I mean, I think we agree there's a line to be drawn where the game isn't ruined or compromised by obnoxious, interfering parents with a gross of lack of perspective and priorities. But to say that CHEERING falls on the obnoxious side of the line is egregious and is what has most of us up in arms. Well me, anyway.

I'd say it's a lot easier to just say "no cheering" than to get caught up quibbling, mid-game, over just how offensive or antagonistic a cheer is allowed to be. Also you don't want people screaming from the sidelines to risk drowning out the ref, and at least back when I was reffing kids sports, we maybe had a whistle to help us get attention.
posted by kafziel at 5:39 AM on November 12, 2010


(Here's Stargell's link.)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:38 PM on November 12, 2010


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