On Saturday, BYU played Washington.  The game went pretty well, the scoring went back and forth.  The game stayed tied or withing a touchdown for most of the game. I do have one gripe about the game, and that is the last about 30 seconds of the game. 

There was about 30 seconds left in the game, and Washington was down by one touchdown.  They got down close enough and  scored a touchdown, and were now within one point of tying the game.  They were excited, and I think that they had reason to be.  Then there was a flag on the field.  The penalty ended up being for celebration.  That particular penalty is one of those that always makes me mad.  It is not that I think that it should not exist, because I do think it should exist. The wording just needs to be changed. There are times if a celebration is flagerant and blatant that it needs to be called. But a situation like Jake Locker getting excited because he scored a touchdown to try and tie the game, should not be called.

Conduct of Players and Others Subject to the Rules

SECTION 2. Noncontact Fouls

Unsportsmanlike Acts
ARTICLE 1. There shall be no unsportsmanlike conduct or any act
that interferes with orderly game administration on the part of players,
substitutes, coaches, authorized attendants or any other persons subject to
the rules, before the game, during the game or between periods.

a. Specifically prohibited acts and conduct include:

2. After a score or any other play, the player in possession immediately
must return the ball to an official or leave it near the dead-ball spot.
This prohibits:

(a) Kicking, throwing, spinning or carrying (including off of the
field) the ball any distance that requires an official to retrieve it.

(b) Spiking the ball to the ground [Exception: A forward pass to
conserve time (Rule 7-3-2-d)].

(c) Throwing the ball high into the air.

(d) Any other unsportsmanlike act or actions that delay the game.

[emphasis added]

But it is one of those things that is up to interpretation.  The wording on the penalty or rulebook, whatever you want to call it, needs to be changed. One referee might see a little celebration and not call anything; while a different referee might see the same celebration, but decide to call a penalty.

After the game, referee Larry Farina was quoted as saying “After scoring the touchdown, the player threw the ball into the air and we are required, by rule, to assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It is a celebration rule that we are required to call. It was not a judgment call.”

What? If it’s not a judgment call, why did the rule makers insert the word “high?” The officials are being asked to make a judgment by inserting that one four-letter word. Is it high if a player throws the ball 30 feet in the air? Sure. Is it high if he tosses it over his shoulder? No. How about 6 inches over his head? A foot? A yard? See, there has to be a judgment made at some point. If any act of throwing the ball in the air were to be penalized, the word “high” would have been omitted.

Here is a clip of the play:


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