With the football season set to make its long-awaited return, the NFL has announced a number of radical changes which will come into effect from early September. Protective measures have been put in place to ensure that players are unable to make contact with one another, and regular sanitization breaks will be factored into every single match. These stipulations were widely accepted by the Executive Committee, however, some representatives claimed that the new directives don’t actually go far enough.
The rules of the game have constantly evolved, but the latest pronouncements are believed to be the most radical since its inception in 1920. Fans are largely divided on the issue, but the majority are expected to have come to terms with the changes by mid-October.
Players will be required to remain two meters apart at all times, and as a result, each team will only be permitted to field a maximum of seven players at any given point. With the authorities keen to keep things hygienic, they’ve also insisted that the football must be cleaned by one of twelve designated ‘pitchside wipers’ every five touches. Although some skeptics have warned that the game will be slowed down as a result of this, the NFL has asked the officials to factor ‘additional cleansing time’ into their match timings.
Regular sanitization breaks will also take place throughout the course of the contest, with at least one planned stoppage each quarter. This will allow all players to free themselves of germs at least four times per match, whilst coaches will be asked to wear latex grip gloves on the touchline. Any member of staff who is spotted removing the protective handwear will be heavily fined and is likely to receive a 3-game ban.
Although the NFL have been contemplating a rule change for helmets in recent years, headgear will be ditched altogether for the 2020 campaign. Instead, players will be asked to wear masks that will be adorned by their team logo. All competitors have been wearing them during training sessions as they look to improve their ability to understand incoherent muttering. Masks may only be removed for drinking, spitting, and sneezing.
Finally, the NFL will ban all celebratory rituals with players being asked to simply salute one another from a safe distance in order to commemorate a touchdown or field goal. Post-match, players mustn’t congregate together and all forms of high five are prohibited.
These notable rules changes have also trickled down to college football, with the majority of organizations accepting these alterations. Clemson, who are the +225 favorites in the American football odds to win the NCAAF Championship, were the only side to vote against the new regulations, whilst Penn State accidentally misplaced their ballot paper and therefore wasn’t eligible to vote.
The rules are only expected to be in place for a single season, although sanitization breaks may be gradually reduced as the campaign progresses. The new regulations may take some getting used to, however, fans are excited to see how the new seven-a-side format will play out. Players will be expected to conform, and having been given two months’ notice, there is now ample time for teams to get up to speed with the latest guidelines ahead of September 10th.