I’ve already been called out for my elitist ignorance — acknowledged freely, but still both elitist and ignorant — after this prissy, condescending UFC post, and so I’m going to tread lightly on the subject of high school football. This is a subject I can easily get a little too charged up about, due to what I see as about a dozen interlocking and dehumanizing creepinesses surrounding it and its place in the culture. I’m not going to get charged up about it, though. Well, not by typing about it here.
I’ll say only that I’ve always felt that the extent to which high school football, and football in general, is overvalued in certain corners of the culture is a pretty huge bummer. Ordinarily I’d blame creepy boosters and mis-prioritized administrators and a host of other malefactors I might well be imagining for all this. But I think it’s worth taking a minute to give their just due to the crusty, conservative gym teacher types who also have a hand in making high school football something I do not like. High school coaches across the nation have banded together to ban the A-11, a gonzo gimmick offense for which I had high hopes, for programs that play by the rules of the National Federation of State High School Association. Rivals’ Ray Glier reports:
The A-11, which was created in Piedmont, Calif., in 2007, used an exception to a scrimmage kick rule that was introduced in 1982 to have all 11 players wear eligible jersey numbers 1-49 and 80-89. The A-11 offense had players jump into positions or shift into positions just before the snap, which made it difficult for the defense to adjust. Because every player had an eligible jersey number, they could line up in such a way to be a legal receiver.
The NFHS changed the rule and said that on first, second and third down, there must be four players on the line with numbers 50-79. The snapper may have a number 1-49 or 80-89, but he is ineligible. In essence, there can only be potentially six eligible receivers per down instead of 11 under the A-11.
“It was unethical for them to use a loophole in the rules to run this offense,” said Mike Webb, the supervisor of football officials for the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission who is on the NFHS football rules committee. “This takes away the deception.” West Virginia and North Carolina were among those states that deemed the offense “unsportsmanlike” and banned its use.
At the A-11’s website — the offense has a website! — the scheme’s inventor, Kurt Bryan, vows to fight on:
There is plenty of room in America for more than one style of football – the game has and always will evolve for the betterment of each new generation. And, more importantly, as has been clearly demonstrated by many of the A-11 teams nationwide, there is a need for an A-11 style of football too. Remarkably, this has become a classic landmark case of standing up for the “Little Guy” in football, and we are going to lead the way.
I’ll be watching this story, at least until I remember how much high school football creeps me out.