Want to start a campaign to have two rule changes introduced in Canadian football that would significantly improve the game?
Here is what I propose:
In the early days of football, there were no hashmarks. By the 1950s, hashmarks had been placed about 15 yards from the sidelines. The position of the hashmarks was later moved to 24 yards from the sidelines, where they now sit. The hashmarks should be moved back to 15 yards from the sidelines.
Blocking was introduced very early in the history of North American football, but blockers could not use their hands when contacting an opposing player. About 25 years ago, blocking with the hands was made legal. Blocking with the hands should be prohibited. Unlimited blocking should be permitted on the field, but no hand contact.
The intent of the two existing rules which I propose to change was obviously to facilitate the passing game, which has now completely overshadowed running. The net result of the rules now in place is that most blocks are essentially holding, while the running game has become unimaginative and slow. The basic structure of the game has changed... for the worse. The game has become one-dimensional.
In the 1960s linemen weighed 250 lbs maximum and were fast and athletic, running plays were explosive, with complex blocking assignments requiring pulling linemen, traps, and downfield blocking, often bringing a guard or tackle from the left side of the line to the far right, end sweeps, options (with double options). Plays developed faster, because running backs lined up less than 4 yards behind scrimmage and plunged through a hole that was calculated. Fewer game interruptions because fewer holding penalties.
In the present day game, linemen often weigh up to 350 pounds and cannot run more than a few yards at a lumbering pace. There are no dramatic, explosive running plays, end sweeps, precision blocking. Blocks are static, without collisions, as all the big men need to do is push their opponents with their hands (or hold them, which is more often the case). Running plays unfold slowly because running backs line up 7 to 10 yards behind scrimmage, receive the ball 5 yards behind, and must often come to a halt and change directions before they reach the line of scrimmage (the "cut back" is a necessity made into a virtue). When a running play ends, everyone is standing up holding on to each others' jerseys. The game is constantly being interrupted for penalties, and the pace of the game in general is sluggish because linemen cannot run on and off the field, or even from the huddle to the line of scrimmage.
In short, the game has gone down the tubes. It's time to rejuvenate it.
Of course, many people will object that the NFL introduced the present rules, so we should keep them. There is no reason why the Canadian game cannot differ from the American on these points, as it does on others. The improvements I propose will make the game more exciting to watch and play, because all players will need to be more athletic and skilled.
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