by DOMINICK PUENTE//Staff Writer
With half of the NFL season over, the officiating has not improved and rules have become unclear, just like previous seasons.
Teams, fans and critics have continuously expressed their concern regarding the rules and officiating within the NFL.
Throughout press conferences and social media, players have become vocal about these topics and have received fines from the NFL.
If the league wishes to rid those outcries, the NFL should be open to more change within the system.
The rulebook for the NFL is larger than most college textbooks. For the league to expect an official to remember complex and vague rules during a fast-paced game is ridiculous.
A rule should be simple and exact. However, rules within the league drag on for a paragraph and fail to be exact. A rule with that much description and still vaguely discusses the rule should be redefined or cut out.
In intense in-game situations, the game needs rules that are specific and are justified in the proper situation. Games that are being decided in the ending seconds should not be impeded by a rule that partially hits on the penalty or rule and could be decided either way.
An example is determining what a catch is. There are multiple sections within the rulebook on what is a completed pass. However, when a catch is being discussed, vague terms are used allowing a wide variety of things to happen to cause it to be an incomplete pass.
This debate between what is a catch and what is not a catch has angered many people. Teams have suffered losses due to this unclear rule, ruining playoff chances, close games and some of the simplest catches.
Rules are implemented to establish and protect the integrity of the game. But the league is creating rules that are meaningless and only cause more frustration for teams and fans.
Tackling has always been a concern for defenseless players, but the rules established have raised questions regarding where and how a player can tackle another player. Safety has been stressed in the league the past few years. With as many rules there are on hitting an opponent, it is virtually impossible for a player to hit an opponent and not be flagged.
The league needs to revaluate what a defenseless opponent is and exactly what a “dirty hit” is before the NFL switches to flag football.
As for the officiating, the league’s referees cannot be blamed for bad calls or overall officiating. The league demands that the officials remember an entire textbook of rules that range from what the dimensions of a football field should be to looking for the slightest twitch of a player on the line of scrimmage.
Officials are expected to retain every bit of information for a game, but that should not be such a difficult task. The NFL is not helping the league by putting so much on the shoulders of the officials.
Along with trying to remember everything in the rulebook, every official in the NFL is part-time. Part-time officiating is not the smartest move the league has done.
If every official was employed by the NFL full-time, it would allow the officials to put their full attention toward the job of refereeing.
It might not be an ideal situation, as the NFL season is not year-round, but it still allows officials to study new rules and regulations being added.
Solid officiating will only make the league happier and reduce stress upon the referees when trying to study a textbook-size rule book.