Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If No One Sees is it Still Illegal?

Sometimes you have to stretch a little.  For the good of the team. 

Stretch the rules a little. 

Stretch someone's jersey a little.

Like here, the runner, number thirty-something,  is in serious jeopardy.  The blocker isn't in position to stop the Outlaw defender.  So blocker grabs the Austin jersey.  I'm sorry to report the tactic worked.  The Austin tackler didn't make the play.  The runner made another ten yards before being brought down by other Outlaws. 

Evenly matched players are always looking for an edge.  Some of the edge comes in practice building strength, improving technique.  Sometimes, in the heat of game competition, the edge comes by testing the rules, testing the officials.  Stretching a jersey.  

Outlaw grasping collar of opponent jersey.
Outlaw pass interference.
Sometimes even the Outlaws take some liberties with the rules.  (Lily insists that is not why we named them the Outlaws.)  In the photo above, that's an Outlaw's hand grasping the shirt of the Mustangs player. 

And in the photo to the right, the Outlaw defender is  - well, maybe she's doing a favor for the receiver?  The higher up the receiver goes, the farther back down she'll have to come.  And coming down can cause painful impact with the ground.  Grabbing the jersey to keep the receiver from going too high might be simply be a little bit of altruism at work. 

Or maybe she's trying to prevent a reception.

When I started looking for photos of stretched rules I expected to find a lot.  It is just a part of competition.  I was surprised at how few examples I found among my hundreds of photos.  I suspect that isn't evidence the players aren't trying hard enough.  Rather it suggests they're good at keeping the illegal techniques concealed from officials and cameras.  But I do have a few...

Here's some serious holding, Dallas "blocker" practically taking
the shirt from Austin #3 Avery.

I don't know who the Austin blocker is in this photo - I wouldn't say if I did because I don't
want you to think ill of any Outlaw.  And I don't know if grabbing the Mustangs defender
jersey was necessary.  The Outlaws runner is Shadana Hurd - back when she wore number 82. 
Shadana eluded all defenders and romped to the end zone.  I think she'd have made it without the help.

Here the Mustangs blocker is nearly tackling an Outlaws defender.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, Monica Gauck #7 is still loose and
stops the runner on the spot.

Sometimes commentators will label a penalty as good.  If you're a corner back and the receiver has you beat and the pass is coming straight and true, a little pass interference is better than letting the receiver score.  Other penalties are bad.  In the photo above where Shadana was eluding tacklers and breaking for the end zone, an unnecessary holding penalty could have cancelled the score. 

Stretching the rules is part of the game.  Sometimes you get caught and have to deal with whether the penalty was good or bad.  Sometimes you don't get caught.  Which raises football's version of the old tree-in-the-forest philosophical question - if the official didn't see it, did it really happen?

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