Targeting no longer means automatic ejection

Getting flagged for targeting won’t mean an automatic ejection anymore in Texas high school football. At least temporarily until pressure forces the issue in the opposite direction.

Heading into the 2019 season the University Interscholastic League has added a new wrinkle to the targeting rule. Officials have the option to flag a player for targeting, which will result in a 15-yard penalty but not an automatic ejection if it is deemed that the play was made without intent to harm.

“What coaches, officials and all agree on is that by having that differentiation you perhaps will see officials be more comfortable calling targeting,” UIL Director of Athletics Susan Elza said. “What we found in feedback from coaches and officials was that there were times that it was probably targeting but I’m not sure. If they throw the flag and call it that, the player is out of the contest for the rest of the game.”

As an official, especially in contact sports such as football, my main concern, always, was the safety of the players.

No official wants a call late in the contest to perhaps influence the outcome of the game, per one recent Super Bowl contest. However, just as in basketball, if a technical foul is warranted, it shouldn’t matter if it’s the first quarter or over-time.

I officiated for a few years and in my day targeting was just like any other flagrant foul. It was a 15-yard penalty for un-sportsmanlike conduct. However, if I, and some of the officials I worked with, believed it was a violent blow to the head, then that player would be ejected. That’s how we handled it back in the 70s and 80s.

Personally, I don’t necessarily believe it should be just confined to the head area. Last football season, sitting in the stands watching a game, there were several instances early in the contest that it was obvious that a couple of players were trying to injure the opponent’s QB by taking shots at his knees.


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