Spearing (gridiron football)
In gridiron football, spearing is a tackling technique in which a player makes initial contact with the crown of their helmet by using their body as a spear (head out, arms by their side). An offensive player or a defensive player can be penalized for spear tackling. Spearing from an offensive player will result in a 15-yard penalty, whereas spearing from a defensive player will result in an automatic first-down for the offense.
1976 Rule Change
In the year 1976, the tackling technique known as spearing was banned across the board. Associations such as the National Football League (NFL), the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFSHSA) made it illegal to perform any kind of spearing or head down contact to another player. This is mainly due to the severe injuries players would sustain upon using the spearing technique. Although this ban might have decreased the number of head injuries, players use of spearing still persists.
Within the sport of gridiron football, the spearing technique was responsible for most of the catastrophic cervical spinal cord injuries and concussions, which is a result of axial loading. Recognition of such injuries resulted in rule changes in 1976, banning such tackles for high school and college football, after which incidence of these injuries dropped significantly. For example, incidence of quadriplegia decreased from 2.24 and 10.66 per 100,000 participants in high school and college football in 1976, to 1.30 and 2.66 per 100,000 participants in 1977.
- Heck, Jonathan F. (2004). "National Athletic Trainers' Association Position Statement: Head-Down Contact and Spearing in Tackle Football". Journal of Athletic Training. 39 (1): 101–111. PMC 385269. PMID 15085218.
- Heck, Jonathan F. (March 1996). "The Incidence of Spearing During a High School's 1975 and 1990 Football Seasons". Journal of Athletic Training. 31 (1): 31–37. PMC 1318352. PMID 16558368.
- Rakel, David; Rakel, Robert E. (2011). Textbook of Family Medicine (8 ed.). Elsevier Health Sciences. ISBN 9781437735673.