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J Athl Train. 1995 March; 30(1): 63–68.
PMCID: PMC1317831

A Survey of New Jersey High School Football Officials Regarding Spearing Rules


Football officials play an important role in the prevention of catastrophic head and neck injuries. Officials alone can use the spearing penalty as a deterrent to players during football games. The purpose of this study was to determine the officials' perspectives on the spearing rules and their level of enforcement. In a stratified random sample, 100 high school officials from New Jersey were surveyed. The officials returned 100% of the questionnaires. Each official worked an average of 27 games during 1992. Forty-seven percent of the officials did not call any spearing penalties. A New Jersey official called an estimated one spearing penalty in 20 games. The officials were most likely to call a spearing penalty on a late hit and least likely to call one on a ball carrier. The officials' opinions varied greatly regarding the spearing rules. The level of enforcement found in this study was extremely low. The possibility exists that officials are either overlooking or not recognizing a significant number of spears. Individual athletic trainers, state athletic training associations, and the National Athletic Trainers' Association should take steps to improve the enforcement level of the spearing penalty.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Albright JP, McAuley E, Martin RK, Crowley ET, Foster DT. Head and neck injuries in college football: an eight-year analysis. Am J Sports Med. 1985 May-Jun;13(3):147–152. [PubMed]
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  • Watkins RG. Neck injuries in football players. Clin Sports Med. 1986 Apr;5(2):215–246. [PubMed]

Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association