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 #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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