Are Tricks for Kids?

Quarterback sneaks!

Michael Josephson often says that an ethical person does more than the law requires and less than the law allows. In other words, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. To what extent does that apply to athletics? More specifically, what are we to make of this trick play executed during a middle-school football game in Texas?

Driscoll Middle School was down 0-6 in the city championship game against Wynne Seale when Driscoll’s quarterback and coach feigned confusion, and the quarterback pretended to take the ball to move it ahead a few yards. As soon as he was past the linebackers, he took off running and scored a touchdown.

Time ran out with the game tied, and due to weird middle school football rules, Wynne Seale won the championship because their offense penetrated Driscoll’s 20-yard line twice and Driscoll only got through Wynne Seale’s 20 once.

The trick play didn’t yield a victory, but what did it do?

As Bob Reno at Badjocks.com points out:

[Y]ou have to wonder what this teaches the young players . . . on both teams. That if you have a coach who understands the rules better than the other coach that you can win? That being sneaky is better than working hard and being good at what you do? Or that you have to be a student of the game and take the risk of knocking the crap out of an opposing quarterback who looks like he’s doing something unusual even if it means you might get penalized?

What do you think? Share your comment below or take our poll:

Do trick plays have a place in youth football?

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5 comments for “Are Tricks for Kids?

  1. December 2, 2010 at 7:07 am

    For Pete’s sake, this is just a game. The kids – and many of the viewers who saw this video on sports shows across the country – learned something from this – be prepared for the unexpected and be ready to respond to innovative behavior.

  2. Elizabeth Hill
    December 2, 2010 at 8:29 am

    I say it depends. It certainly depends on what you call a trick play. The game of football is full of “trick” plays including setting up to kick a field goal, snapping to the ball holder, often a quarterback, then throwing the ball instead. This just one example but it flows with the game and involves strategy and skill. Unfortunately, the situation above moves closer to cheating and taking advantage of the other team rather than relying on your own team’s skills and talents to win a game legitimately.

  3. Pete Flotlin
    December 2, 2010 at 8:49 am

    All that coach did was to make the National rules federation take a look at making another rule change to prevent such things happening in the future. In middle school, teaching the spirit of good competiveness should be a goal. That coach needs to realize that blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make his burn any brighter. What goes around, comes around. I hope his kids aren’t held accountable for his judgement. Trick plays such as this, at the expense of others, do make make very good resume builders.

  4. Charles Black
    December 14, 2010 at 9:12 am

    This play is already against Federation rules. Youth football typically plays HS rules with a few exceptions (weight limits for ballcarriers, for example). Texas is the only state not belonging to the High School Federation (they play NCAA rules in HS in Texas). In any other state there would have been an Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty flag and enforcement: 15 yards from the original line of scrimmage.

  5. Larry Weiner
    December 14, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Deception is inherent in most team and many individual sports (pump fakes in football, jukes in basketball, dribbling skills in soccer, etc). However, these should be in the spirit of competition, which is where I think this incident fails. There is no opportunity for the defending team to make a play on the ball without the apparent risk of a dead ball foul.

    If you consider a play in the World Cup by the Netherlands against Brazil where the forward (Robben) taps the ball in play and runs to switch positions with another player (who is then free to dribble the ball because the ball is in play). I have considered teaching this play to my 10 year old girls team. Here, the kids at least have a fighting chance to defend the play, albeit they would be taken off guard. I am inclined to think this does not rise to the standard of being “unsportsmanlike”, although I don’t think I’d want to use this kind of play in a close game at this age. If it gets the kids to pay closer attention and learn something more about the rules, I’d say that’s a good thing. More on this kind of play here: http://tinyurl.com/29hoc2p

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