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Column: Local teams tired of the unnecessary roughness

We have all heard the saying “The more things change the more they stay the same.”

One of the definitions of that is “many things remain consistent even as changes happen.”

Several years ago, the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) began stressing player safety in football.

They instructed referees to begin stricter enforcement of targeting a player by another opposing player and to begin to call the game closer.

And for a while, flags were flying at an increased frequency at games, perhaps putting an overemphasis on the change.

Everyone knows that football is a physical sport and injuries — as in all sports — can happen.

But there is a thin line between being physical and stepping over that line.

Two years ago, a local team hosted a playoff game against another school that came in with a reputation for crossing that line. It is pretty common knowledge who the school was.

In that game, a player from the local team was injured early in the game in what only could be called a cheap — and dirty — play.

One of many in that contest.

In that same game, a player from that same team was flagged for three personal fouls but remained in the game.

Last Wednesday, another local team hosted that same team to finish out its regular season.

Needless to say, history repeated itself.

Late in the game, a player from that same team took a cheap shot on the local team’s quarterback. He was flagged for it.

In talking with the local coach after the game about the cheap hits during the game, the coach said this.

“It is one thing to hear about it for years, but coaching against it is totally different. I watched the game film and that was the dirtiest group I have ever seen.”

I am sure that other coaches and teams who have played this team have experienced the same thing.

Reports have been sent to the MSHSL on this team in the last few years along with game tapes from coaches.

The MSHSL response was, to paraphrase, “We’ll take care of it.”

That has left frustrated schools, players, fans and coaches with perhaps a sigh and a response — “The more things change the more they stay the same.”

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