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College football might get rid of kickoffs, which are dangerous and usually boring

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Kickoffs are dangerous and usually boring. There are very few good reasons to keep them, and those good reasons are outweighed by a couple points I’d like to make, if you have a moment:

  1. Kickoffs are dangerous.
  2. Kickoffs are usually boring.

Thank you for listening.

The movement to get rid of them is gaining steam, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd reports:

Both the American Football Coaches Association's board of trustees and the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee have at least had informal talks about the possibility.

The reason: player safety.

"I don't think there is any doubt it is the most dangerous play in the game," said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, chairman of that oversight committee. "How much that's the case and how we can fix it is unknown."

Both entities are reviewing injury data to gauge the impact of kickoffs. Preliminary indications are that injuries occur at a higher rate on kickoffs, according to sources.

If it can make players safer, we should do it. Kick return touchdowns and grandiose opening kickoff emotions stick out in our minds, but by the 45th commercial-touchback-commercial combo of autumn, all that is out the window anyway.

"Kickoffs are dangerous? Football is dangerous!" some fans of kickoffs might say. You probably shouldn't go around saying, "Football is dangerous!" these days, I think, because that's not exactly going to make anyone want to keep football the way it is. Making football slightly less dangerous is extremely necessary, and the game's survived much bigger changes than this.

Rodger Sherman has a good argument for getting rid of kickoffs at every level of football, including a rebuttal to the charge that kickoffs are necessary to ensure losing teams have one last chance to score. Rodger also proposes a few wild ideas to replace kickoffs, so dial these down to whatever strikes you as reasonable:

1. After every touchdown, the scoring team has the opportunity to go for it from 20 yards for the chance to retain possession. This would probably work about as often as onside kicks, and we'd get to see a regular football play decided by each team's offense and defense rather than the whims of a funny-shaped ball. If you miss, the opponent gets the ball from the spot.

2. We're eliminating kickers' jobs a bit, so let's give them a break. Same idea, but a 60-yard field goal with the ball spotted at midfield. No defense, just a kicker and a holder. I'm guessing that with kickoffs out of the game, teams will prioritize hyper-accurate kickers over strong-legged kickers, so there will be fewer kickers capable of hitting these. If you hit it, you keep the ball from midfield; if you miss, the opponent gets the ball at midfield. We can tweak it if kickers are making 60-yarders too frequently.

3. Teams have the option to attempt onside kicks. Onside kicks don't have the same inherent dangers as regular kickoffs. There would be a rule against kicking it deep, to prevent teams from abusing the rule for field position.


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