By Ken Reed
The NFL’s competition committee and coaches, along with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) all agreed that there needed to be a crackdown on taunting this season.
This is a great move and long overdue. Every year there seems to be an increase in the amount of smack-talking and disrespectful gesturing in opponents’ faces. It had gotten to the point where teammates were trying to outdo each other when it came to taunting opponents. In addition to verbal taunting, the new crackdown will penalize gestures like waving the incomplete pass sign in an opponent’s face, straddling a player down on the ground, spiking or spinning a ball in the face of an oppenent, etc.
In a video highlighting the points of emphasis for this season, competition committee chairman Rick McKay said the following:
“The NFL Players Association, coaches and competition committee have all made a strong statement regarding respect among everyone on the field,” said McKay.
“We saw an increase in actions that clearly are not within the spirit and intent of this rule and not representative of respect due opponents and others on the field. Game officials have been instructed to strictly enforce the taunting rules, and players and coaches are reminded that two taunting penalties committed by an individual player will result in automatic disqualification. In addition, the taunting player may be fined and/or suspended depending on the severity of the actions.”
Some fans and players hate the new emphasis on sportsmanship, saying it’s taking the fun out of the game. Some have said NFL now stands for the No Fun League. But this isn’t a crackdown on celebrating. Players can still spike the football or spin it after they score a touchdown. They just can’t do it in the face or direction of an opponent. Taunting another player — and flaunting the spirit of sportsmanship in the process — shouldn’t be considered “fun.”
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh had a pretty good explanation for the league’s emphasis on penalizing taunting.
“Sportsmanship is very important,” said Harbaugh.
“The way we treat one another is very important. I think the NFL is out in front in so many ways. We’re high profile. Kids watch us all the time. So the way we treat one another on the field is very important. It’s about respect. Respecting one another out there. How it gets interpreted from game to game, I think that’s something you gotta work through. But it’s basically about respect and respecting one another and sportsmanship.”
Sportsmanship is the spirit of athletic competition. It needs to be constantly encouraged and preserved.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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