Tackling by the hair is, and should be, legal
By Eric Wilkins, Staff Writer
A few weeks ago, Trent Guy of the Montreal Alouettes was tackled several times by his hair. While many questioned whether this was legal and fair, the official ruling is that it’s considered part of the uniform if it’s there.
Both the CFL and NFL rule that if a player’s hair falls past his helmet, it can be used to make a tackle. And that’s the way it should be. Football isn’t an arena to make a fashion statement in. If a player doesn’t mind presenting defenders with another target, then that’s fine; it’s his decision. But players who choose to do so should be well aware of the fact that they have no right to be angry if someone drags them down in a most undignified manner.
I read a comical article the other day where the writer was reacting to various comments made by CFL director of officiating, Tom Higgins. Among the comments from Higgins was that, “…I think it hurts the team when you give somebody an additional advantage.” The writer’s response was that, “This is only an ‘additional advantage’ because of an antiquated rule that penalizes those who have long hair.”
He goes on to talk about the various safety issues about being tackled by the hair, how dangerous it is, the poor tackling habits it can set, etc. I had to laugh. I honestly don’t see how anyone can possibly defend this one. If being taken down by the hair is such a perilous risk, then why have long hair? Why take that chance? Both pro football leagues are actually encouraging player safety by allowing hair tackling. By not forcing all players to cut their hair, the leagues allow that completely unnecessary bit of individuality to exist, but the legal hair tackling rule is a gentle reminder that it wouldn’t hurt to put your job and health first, and style second. It’s like playing the piano with long fingernails. Sure, you can do it, and no one is going to stop you, but it will ultimately affect your performance in a negative fashion.
Frankly, I wouldn’t mind seeing players getting tackled by their manes on every play. It’s a football field, not a catwalk. No one cares what the players look like, and neither should they. It’s their job to play football, and having long hair is a detriment to that job.