Time for state to look at a football 'mercy rule'

Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 04:42 PM.

Rick Strunk, with the N.C. High School Athletic Association, said nationally a “mercy rule” exists when a team is ahead by 45 or more points in the second half. However, he said that coaches in this state have been “pretty adamant” about not wanting a rule that denies the opportunity for players on both teams to compete.

Still, and in light of Ayden-Grifton’s 76-0 victory over Kinston last week, it’s time for coaches and the NCHSAA to have a serious discussion about development of a “mercy rule” in football. While coaches can agree to run a continuous clock in blowouts, the athletic association should set specific guidelines that take the decision out of the hands of coaches.

A continuous clock should be automatic once a team gets ahead by 49 or more points in the second half. The biggest comeback in college football history is 35 points, so 49 points in a high school game certainly seems to be enough to warrant a continuous clock.

And by running a continuous clock — rather than an automatic end to the game — that should allow the opportunity for those young players and reserves to get into the game and play hard, and allow coaches to coach hard, without any concerns that they’ll be accused of running up the score — or in the case of Texas — bullying.

Until such a rule exists, it’s hard to blame coaches who want to develop players for next season. It’s hard to blame the backup players who want to take advantage of those rare opportunities to play in a game after weeks of hard practices. And, it’s hard to blame parents who want to see their children play their hardest and score touchdowns.

Mercy rules exist in other high school sports. It’s time they exist in football, too.

Ken Buday is the editor of the Havelock News. He can be reached at 444-1999 or by email at ken.buday@havenews.com.

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