Without doubt, since the introuduction of the black card to Gaelic football, the number of cynical fouls has decreased immensely.
To tackle the situation relating to cynical fouling, the introduction of the black card was perfect. Players fear committing fouls such as body checks and trips. These are the main fouls that they would have committed and gotten away with before.
However, one major adjustment is completely necessary. Players should be allowed re-enter the game, and not be sent off completely.
In Gaelic football, once a player has received a black card, that player is ultimately sent off for the entire game. That player cannot re-enter the game of play, but is replaced by a sub for its remainder. A simple, yet intellectual adjustment would be to introduce a sin-bin rule. If the returning player from sin-bin conducts another cynical foul later on in the game, then he should be presented with a red card.
It would be a similar ruling system to the one we see ongoing in rugby, where the player is allowed re-enter the game of play after ten minutes on the line. The team will suffer for ten straight minutes, and rightly so. As the rule stands in GAA, the black card system is not actually that beneficial to the opposing team as the player who received the card is replaced immediately by an eagerly waiting substitute. This is wrong on so many levels. There should be minor consequences for the team, not major consequences for the player when a black card is presented.
It is also worth considering the time and effort these players commit to the GAA and for our entertainment needs. Imagine playing in one of the biggest games of your life, that you have trained for all year to be basically given a red card due to committing a silly foul. Simply, it is not a fair rule or system in place. Certainly something needs to be done and adjusted to improve this for us all.
Tyrone’s Mickey Harte, who condemns the black card rule recently stated in the Irish Times that “it is very disconcerting to see that people could lose out on such a big day and your team could lose out as well” due to the black card system currently in place. We have to agree with his calls for this rule needing “tending to”.
Another option, would be to abolish the black card system from GAA games completely. Harte also spoke about the added difficulty the black card has on referees. Referees already have a tough time. The crowd and pundits are always on their backs, and if it’s a close game referees are often one of the main talking points. From a referees perspective, the complete abolishment of the black card rule would be heavenly.
Since it’s introduction in January 2014, the rule has split opinions in the world of Gaelic football. Former multiple Kerry All-Ireland winner, Tomas O’Se is another firm believer that the black card rule doesn’t work at all. He believes that the black card should be given the red card, and abolished completely out of our game. He remarked that “no one seems exactly sure when a black card should be used and when it should be kept in the pocket.” Passionate, yet unknowing shouts at every GAA match of yellow, red and black cards from angry supporters to referees undoubtedly showcases this confusion.
Either it being an adjustment or an abolishment, one or the other is the best option. It is clear to see that the black card ruling system at the moment is confusing for players, referees and fans of the game. It’s not working.
As supporters, we do not want to see our best players being eradicated from the whole game for a silly, cynical, or minor offense. It just does not make sense. We can learn a lot from ruby league and union with regards to this. Something has to be adjusted, or would Harte’s and O’Se’s calls for complete abolishment be the right decision?
With all that in mind, we see the sin-bin rule working in rugby all the time, day in day out. Its indroctuction is definitely worth a try.
Jason Redmond, Pundit Arena.