The phrase ‘New Normal’ has become almost as worn out as our collectively frayed nerves after the past 15+ months, but some aspects of sporting life under Covid-19 restrictions will (and must) continue.
Take the recent statement from the lords of college football regarding increased penalties for spitting or biting at an opponent or anyone involved in an NCAA men’s or women’s football game.
Thanks to the NCAA Game Rules Monitoring Panel, we can now rest a little more comfortable knowing that such rude and, well, unsanitary behavior will continue to deserve the same two-game suspension as in 2020 according to the rules of Covid-19.
Additionally, spitting and biting on the pitch will remain a Red Card Violation for Violent Behavior II. The same will apply to “coughing against an opponent” or anyone involved in a college football game, according to the NCAA.com press release.
The, uh, kicker, however, was this buried line at the end of one of the usually dense paragraphs:
“The original rule change was made in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “
It might reasonably be assumed that spitting and / or biting people around you during any athletic competition would result in substantial penalties, but it apparently took the worst pandemic in a century to magnify the repercussions even further.
There were other explanations of common sense rules in the summer press release, including one that the Covid-19 exemption allowing training and team areas “to be extended beyond 20 meters of the 5-meter neutral zone ”would remain in effect. The same would apply to the idea of allowing the referee to visually or verbally verify box scoring information provided the game runners use “an official NCAA paper box score.”
Still, it was the part about spitting and biting that left its mark on me.
It’s been a quarter of a century since Baseball Hall of Fame member Roberto Alomar spat in referee John Hirschbeck’s face during an argument on the field. The suspension for this transgression was five games.
A decade and a half ago, France’s Zinedine Zidane received a red card for head-butting Italy’s Marco Materazzi in the chest in the World Cup final. For a long time, it was believed that Materazzi had insulted Zidane’s mother, but on the 10th anniversary of Italy’s victory, the instigator finally set the record straight.
“My mother died when I was 15; I would never have insulted (Zidane), ”Materazzi told L’Equipe. “I mentioned his sister.
The Italian was probably lucky that Zidane didn’t bite him.