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QR and Football

Nathan Grawe
published Nov 21, 2013

Colleague Christopher Tassava pointed me to this interesting short film on the use of QR in high school football. A successful high school coach shares the reasoning behind his decisions to never punt (even on his own 5 yard line!) and always onside kick. Watching the video made me think three things:

  • This is a great example of taking QR seriously. In the context it's being used, the consideration of trade-offs seems pretty sound.
  • Given that the research on the under-use of 4th down has been around a while and we still don't see many coaches following this strategy, there must be some other component to coaches decision-making. For example, could it be that to lose unconventionally poses a greater risk to job security than losing the same way everyone else loses? Or could it be that winning isn't the only thing (pace Mr. Lombardi)–that coaches are trying to give students a "football experience" even if that doesn't mean maximizing the probability of wins.
  • Recent concerns surrounding head injuries have led some to question the danger of kickoffs and punt returns. This video suggests the game wouldn't necessarily be radically different at the high school level if rules were adopted to eliminate these risky plays. (For example, rule could heavily penalize any kickoff that traveled more than 20 yards and outlaw punts.) Presumably receiving teams would get better at handling "on side" kicks and, as the video points out, the change in starting field position wouldn't necessarily be that great.

Overall, I share Christopher's recommendation of the video as an interesting application of QR to sport.

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