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Encyclopedia > Fair catch

A fair catch is a play in American football and several other forms of football. United States simply as football, is a competitive team sport that is both fast-paced and strategic. ...

In American football, a member of the team receiving a punt or kick, may signal for a "fair catch". To signal fair catch the receiver must raise one arm fully above his head and waive it side to side, while the ball is in flight. After making the signal, no opponent may interfere with the fair catcher, the ball or his path to the ball and the receiver may not attempt to advance the ball. If the receiver fails to give a proper signal (arm not fully extended) the receiving team is penalized five yards for an invalid fair catch signal, marked from spot of the signal. Todd Sauerbrun punts the ball for the Carolina Panthers. ... A kick-off is a method or starting or restarting play in American football. ...

The primary reason for the fair catch rule is to protect the receiver. A receiver's attention is on the incoming punt and cannot focus on the defenders running towards him. He is quite vulnerable to injury and is also at risk for fumbling the kick if the punter intentionally makes a high short kick to allow defenders time to hit the receiver. The XFL removed the fair catch rule in an effort to make the game more "extreme." The XFL however, was not the only league to do so: Canadian football and Arena football also do not have fair catch rules. The XFL was a professional American football league that played for one season in 2001. ... A Toronto Argonauts player dives for yardage while a Montreal Alouettes defender gives chase. ... Arena football is a sport invented by Jim Foster, a former executive of the United States Football League and the National Football League. ...

A player signaling for a fair catch is not required to catch the ball; however, after making the signal, he may not initiate contact with any member of the kicking team until the ball is touched by another player. If he does he will be penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. If the ball hits the ground or a member of the kicking team, the fair catch signal is off and rules for kicked balls apply. If the receiver "muffs" the ball (touches it, but then fails to field it cleanly), then the ball can be recovered by the kicking team. Unsportsmanlike conduct is a term used in most professional sports to refer to a particular player or team who have acted inappropriately and/or unprofessionally in the context of the game. ...

A "personal foul" for kick catch interference and a 15 yard penalty is called against the kicking team if a member violates the fair catcher's right to the ball. If the receiver attempts to advance the ball after signalling for a fair catch he is penalized five yards for "delay of game". A fair catch may be followed by a snap or a type of free kick — the fair catch kick — at his team's choice, and an expired playing period may be extended if the free kick is chosen. A snap (colloquially called a hike, snapback, or pass from center) starts each Canadian football and American football play from scrimmage. ... A fair catch kick is a little-known, rarely used play in American football. ...

The fair catch signal can be used as a legal form of deception in the following instance: If the receiver has no intention of actually fielding the ball, but wishes it to roll in the end zone for a touchback, he may signal for a fair catch in front of where the ball will land, making the kicking team think it will not reach the end zone. Some fans see this as an abuse of the fair catch rule, and think that it should be amended to allow the kicking team to recover the ball at any point after it has touched the ground if a fair catch has been called for, which would force an end to this practice, but so far no rules committee will consider this argument.

Various forms of football descended from certain English school football games of the 19th century have had a fair catch. It was abolished early in the development of soccer, then in the middle of the 20th century by Canadian football, and slightly later by rugby league. Forms of football retaining a form of fair catch (also called "mark") include American (outdoor), rugby union, and Australian rules. The American-invented intramural games speedball and speed-a-way have some of the flavor of the original fair catch, which was to allow handling of the ball in games where handling was otherwise forbidden. Australian rules, speedball, and speed-a-way do not require that the kick be from an opponent. American football requires that the catcher signal in advance, as did Canadian football before that game abolished the fair catch. Rugby union requires a player to signal a fair catch by catching the ball and shouting "Mark!". Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s As a means of recording the passage of time, the 20th century was that century which lasted from 1901–2000 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar (1900–1999... A Toronto Argonauts player dives for yardage while a Montreal Alouettes defender gives chase. ... Rugby league is a team sport, played by two teams of 13 players. ... To mark a ball in Rugby Union, the player must be inside that players twenty-two metre line. ... A scrum Rugby union (often referred to as rugby, union or football) is one of the two codes of rugby football, the other being rugby league. ... Australian Rules and Aussie Rules redirect here. ... Speedball can mean: Several team sports, including: Speedball (sport), a combination of European handball and soccer; Speed-ball, a racquet sport came from Egypt Speedball (American), a form of football invented in the United States in 1912; A form of paintball often played in tournaments. ...

In some forms of football a player fielding an opponent's kick must be given a certain circular unobstructed space around him in which to do so by either some or all opponents. In rugby union, rugby league, and Canadian football this applies only against members of the kicking team who are offside, and applies whether the ball is in the air, bouncing, or rolling. In Arena Football, there is no fair catch; however all members of the kicking team must refrain from penetrating the five-yard line in coverage, but only while the ball is in the air.

The various games differ as to the conditions under which a fair catch will be awarded — for example, whether the ball must be caught "cleanly", i.e. without juggling. Rugby union requires a clean catch. American football allows the ball to be juggled, but not to be intentionally batted forward to improve the position of the catch (as for a free kick at goal). Australian rules is most generous, allowing unlimited hand play with the ball before it is caught, and allowing the kick to be from any other player, regardless of team (however, the ball must have travelled 15 metres). In the 19th century in rugby and into the 20th in American and Canadian football, a fair catch was allowed from certain kicks of a teammate -- a punt-out or punt-on. Until very late in the 20th century in rugby union, a fair catch was allowed from an opponent's knock-on or throw-forward.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (USA) abolished the fair catch from its version of American football in 1950, but restored it in 1951.

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