Tag Archives: kickoff
The Ivy League will use an experimental rule for the 2016 football season to move kickoffs to the 40-yard line and touchbacks to the 20-yard line in an effort to reduce concussions and further promote the safety and welfare of its student-athletes.
“This experimental rule change is another example of The Ivy League leading the nation in concussion prevention,” said Executive Director Robin Harris. “Our data showed us that kickoffs result in a disproportionate number of concussions and this rule will allow us to assess whether limiting kickoff returns will reduce the incidence of concussions.”
The goal of the experimental rule is to limit kickoff returns, which account for 23.4 percent of concussions during games despite representing only 5.8 percent of overall plays. The League will evaluate the concussion and kickoff return data after the 2016 season. The request was made to the NCAA as a part of The Ivy League’s overall review of concussions, which began with football in 2010 and has included eight other sports to date (men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s ice hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, wrestling, rugby). As a result of this comprehensive review of concussions, the League began an all-sports concussion data collection and study in 2013. Data from this study prompted discussion of kickoffs, which led to The Ivy League head football coaches suggesting this experimental rule change. The NCAA granted The League’s request for conference games only.
This experimental rule is the latest in a series of Ivy policies and rules that are designed to limit the incidence of concussions. Most recently in May, The Ivy League formally adopted another policy originating with the League’s eight head football coaches to eliminate to-the-ground (“live”) tackling in practices during the regular season, which will also go into effect with the 2016 campaign. Changing practice rules does not require NCAA approval.
Not surprisingly, the NCAA’s new kickoff-return rules are producing tons of touchbacks. Through Oct. 6, there were 1,450 touchbacks in the Football Bowl Subdivision, eclipsing 1,397 touchbacks that were registered through the entire 2011 season.
Earlier this year, the NCAA Football Rules Committee moved kickoffs from the 30-yard-line to the 35-yard line in hopes of reducing injuries, especially concussions.
“Everyone is in chase mode on kickoff returns,” said Rogers Redding, NCAA Football Rules Committee secretary-rules editor and national coordinator of college football officials. “Before the return starts, the kicking team is flying down the field and the receiving team players are running back to protect the runner. There are some collisions, but mainly, the more significant collisions happen on the return and not the kick.”
Redding added that another tweak in the rules is also having a positive effect – moving the start position for a team that takes a touchback from the 20-yard line to the 25-yard line. This has led to fewer kickoffs being returned, since data has shown that when a player brings the ball out of the end zone, the offense usually starts inside the 25-yard line, according to the NCAA.
A consulting firm has produced a study that shows that concussions in the NFL declined from 2010 to 2011, principally because of a change in the kickoff rule.
Edgeworth Economics revealed Wednesday that concussions declined from 270 two years ago to 266 last year. Even more interesting was the fact that concussions that occurred on kickoffs declined from 35 to 20 over the same period.
Jesse David, a statistician and economist at Edgeworth, told the Washington Post that the reduction in kickoff-related concussions is “entirely” related to the rule change. It “did what they intended it to do.”
David seemed to suggest, however, that more work remains.
“With concussions, there is a general trend that continues to be up, although there was a slight decrease in 2011 for the first time in several years.”