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New study: Spiked footballs are killing America

Or so you'd think given how the Fun Police keep taking this issue more seriously than is warranted. Interestingly, one of the Fun Police's supporters (hat tip: Extreme Skins) inadvertently recognizes this fact while applauding the new rule. Take it away Paul Woody:

Few things in sports are as ridiculous as a grown man throwing a football to the ground as hard as he can after 3 yards and a cloud of dust.
Few things huh? I agree, spiking a football is ridiculous(ly awesome! Take that stupid ball!) behavior. Among grown men, even more so. As is a grown man getting worked up about something so innocuous.

Paul Woody's moral outrage aside, the NFL has a legitimate beef with spiking the football:

The reasoning behind the NFL's decision is that spiking the ball delays the game. And since coaches stay up all hours of the night thinking of ways to gain 1 yard, they will be plenty steamed when they watch their offense move back 5 yards because a lunkhead fired the ball to the ground.
I'm not willing to grant good faith to the NFL and find this a bit disingenuous -- we know you don't like celebrations, NFL. But, as a matter of fact, throwing the ball around the field could delay the game and thus impact its outcome. I don't believe this has ever seriously been a problem, but I am also not married to any individual player's right to spin the football, no matter how entertaining he (and I) find that.

My concern, and it is shared by others, is that this will negatively impact the Redskins at some point next season. And it will. As Jason La Canfora pointed out:

Brandon Lloyd has got some changes to make: There are going to be 5 yard penalties called whenever a player spikes or throws a ball forward after making a catch, or a run, or a first down, whatever. The instant the officials began explaining this rule change, I thought of our guy No. 85. He does that thing where he spins the ball forward after pretty much every reception. And sure enough, what do you know, the video begins where they show clips of all the infractions to go along with the explanation of the rule changes, and, bingo, second clip is Lloyd doing his thing.

So now, if you do that, even if it's like a catch on first down, with a seven-yard gain, and the receiver spikes the ball or flips it in a way that the officials have to chase it, then guess what, next down its second-and-eight folks.

What about Santana Moss? Doesn't he heave a penchant for spinning the football after receptions?

So that is my bias against this rule front and center, but I don't need burgundy colored glasses to call Paul Woody's article ridiculous, to use his language. Beyond the delay of game, spiking the ball impacts exactly nobody in a negative way. The football is designed to absorb forceful impacts. The ground is much tougher than Paul Woody is giving it credit for. Football players are engaged in a high adrenaline sport where physical expressions of their feelings range from spitting to cleating each other in the face. But think of the footballs, Skin Patrol. And what of the children?

A spike is more than just a delay. A spike is an act of anger, a "Take that!" gesture to critics, real and imagined.

A spike is an unsportsmanlike act. Young players imitate famous players, and young players do not need to see anyone spike a football for any reason.

Deep print, Paul. And here all this time I didn't think the act of spiking a football required that many credentials; a poignant rebuke to your detractors with a dash of windmill slaying thrown in there. Then again, maybe spiking the ball, like any of a thousand harmless celebrations that neither provide nor require justification (like slapping hands), is merely a harmless act of appreciation, in this case just a guy throwing a football.

Maybe a spike is unsportsmanlike, but it won't be because Paul Woody said so. It will be for reasons, "real or imagined" that need to be stated. What is it about a football striking the ground that characterizes an insufficiency of sportsmanship? I'm asking reader(s), because I am curious.

Woody goes on to explain that he'd make it a 15 yard penalty, citing its increased deterrence as reason alone why he's right and the NFL is wrong. Why stop there? A game suspension would do more to discourage football abuse. Summary execution, meted out by the refs on the spot with a hammer, more deterrent yet. Once the moral high ground has been claimed without explanation, don't we have a responsibility to prevent spiked footballs entirely? The children?

Finally, Woody notes:

The NFL's popularity is not by accident. Other sports would be wise to take note of that.
Strange that the NFL's meteoric rise in popularity has coincided with the (perhaps merely perceived) decrease in league sportsmanship. As bad as that sounds admitting, isn't it possible that fans like a bit of passion? That an act as simple as spiking the football, penalized now by the NFL not for sportsmanship reasons, isn't an expression of untoward disdain for one's opponents, but rather just an easy, safe, and uncontroversial means of expressing satisfaction with on-field results. Even a child could understand that.