Trick plays: You play to win
As Santa Monica College's football team inched closer to their third straight Pacific Conference title, a play was unleashed that neither Los Angeles Pierce College nor the rest of the fans saw coming. Up 10 and looking to secure victory, SMC's left tackle Maurquice Shikir caught a screen pass behind scrimmage, only to heave it to wide receiver Deontay Banks for a Corsair touchdown.
This was the beginning of the end for Pierce as SMC sealed the game away on what is known in sports as a trick play.
A trick play can be loosely defined as a play in which a sports team will turn to a more unorthodox method of trying to score, usually swaying away from the traditional styles of play in order to catch an opponent off guard.
From football punters passing the ball rather than kicking it to baseball players pointing their bat to the stands and calling a homerun only to bunt, trick plays are as much a part of sports as the players and coaches themselves.
But for however long trick plays have been in existence, different players, coaches and fans around the world have shared acceptance and displeasure with such plays.
Some people will argue that trick plays have no business being a part of sports, as they take away from the game's traditions and core values. Others praise the strategies as innovations to an expanding portfolio of how to win a game.
With the sports world we live in today, where football has become a pass-happy, safety-cautious league, where it can be difficult to stick to the traditional hard-nose mentality, it is almost a necessity for coaches to be able to outsmart their opponents.
Different options on offense over the years such as the read-option, the wildcat offense, and Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly's "see-coast offense'' are proof that teams are consistently trying to modify the game in order to win by any legal means necessary.
These plays are not in any violation of any rule book. They simply take the rules and manipulate them in order to knock opponents off their heels.
SMC head football coach, Gifford Lindheim feels that trick plays can be a great asset to a team, but should not make up the entire game plan.
"In my opinion, trick plays are the cherry on top," Lindheim said. "If there isn't any substance to the way you play, it's tough to have trick plays be effective. But if you have a team that can execute regular plays well, trick plays can enhance your package. It just can't be your entire package."
Lindheim's point is hard to argue. Trick plays should not be a team's only way of putting points on the board as they would then become too predictable. But teams would be smart to have at least one of these plays on hand to use when all the chips are on the table.
A much more enjoyable reason for these modifications is for the fun of watching players who don't normally have the chance to score receive some glory. Offensive linemen often go an entire career without knowing the feeling of throwing a pass into the end zone or being on the receiving end of a game-winning throw.
With these plays, the offense is allowed to open up and utilize the full potential of the team. After all, isn't that what a team is supposed to do?
Win legally by any means necessary. If the opponent is not smart or quick enough to adjust to such plays, then teams should be able to use that to their advantage in order to win. Who cares if it is not fully traditional? It is a way of winning, and with all of the traditions and values within sports, there will always be that constant goal that every team will continue to strive for, and that is winning.
Do what you have to do to win, but do it legally. If there is a good way to leave your opponents with their jaws dropped and heads being scratched in order to secure a win, then a team would be dumb not to try it.
Need more proof? Just ask the Pacific Conference champions. They know a thing or two about winning.