Last updated: April 30. 2014 9:40PM - 625 Views
By - sstinson@civitasmedia.com - 910-817-2671

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No one can fault the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors for not trying something different.

It seems like every time they meet, a new proposal is passed which makes players, coaches and fans scratch their collective heads and say “Why.”

One of the biggest snafus in recent memory was the pod playoff system for football, but that will soon be a decent memory after the board elected to eliminate it on the 1A level next season after doing the same in the other divisions last year.

The newest proposal, which will go into effect this fall, appears to have a split reaction. Some are all for it, while others would lump the proposal into the same category as the pod system — garbage.

This new rule introduces the mercy rule to football and basketball. In football, if a team is ahead of its opposition by 42 or more points in the second half, the game can be ended by mutual agreement or a running clock will be used for the remainder of the contest. The clock would only be stopped during timeouts, injuries or after touchdowns or field goals.

A poll conducted by highschoolot.com shows 56 percent of voters supporting the rule, 41 percent are against it and another 3 percent are unsure at this point.

Introducing the running clock is nothing new to football. It has always been available to blowouts and a lot of times coaches would agree to use it. But with this new ruling, it is either end the game earlier or deal with a running clock.

On the hardwood, the magic number is 40. Once a team stretches its advantage to that threshold, then the trailing coach will face the dilemma.

Richmond girls basketball coach Victoria DeFrate said it was “common sense” for the board to vote for the proposal. Based on last season’s results, DeFrate and her team were involved in two games when the “mercy rule” would have been invoked and another two that was on the borderline.

DeFrate’s counterpart, David Laton, said he was fine with the rule as long as it applied across the board. Currently, baseball, soccer, softball and wrestling are the only sports offered at Richmond Senior which have “mercy rules.”

Laton and the Raiders played one contest last season when the new rule would have been used and one other which was close.

So far during the current school year, Richmond has been a part of 14 games which have been cut short because of the “mercy rule” in that particular sport. If you include the football contests as well as the aforementioned basketball games, then the number would grow to 19.

That is still a relatively small percentage of contests. And this is generally the case across the state, not just in Richmond County.

There was a great deal of outrage on social media websites Wednesday afternoon with the news of the proposal’s passing. It doesn’t make a lot of sense because statistics will show very few contests will be forced to use the “mercy rule” in basketball or football.

It seems all of this bluster is some people’s way of trying to make much ado about nothing.

Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.

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