A fair catch is a feature of American football and several other codes of football, in which a player attempting to catch a ball kicked by the opposing team – either on a kickoff or punt – is entitled to catch the ball without interference from any member of the kicking team. A ball caught in this manner becomes dead once caught, i.e., the player catching the ball is not entitled to run with the ball in an attempt to gain yardage, and the receiving team begins their drive at the spot where the ball was caught. A player wishing to make a fair catch signals his intent by extending one arm above his head and waving it while the kicked ball is in flight.
The primary reason for the fair catch rule is to protect the receiver. A receiver directs his attention toward 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." Canadian football and Arena football also do not have fair catch rules, with XFL and CFL preferring a five yard "no-yards" rule instead.
In rugby union and Australian rules football, a fair catch is called a mark; see mark (rugby) and mark (Australian football) for more information on fair catches in those games. In the latter, any catch of the required distance is potentially a "fair catch", and is claimed after the fact. Fair catches featured in some extinct forms of football, and they have been abolished in other modern codes.
Famous quotes containing the words fair and/or catch:
What damned error but some sober brow
Will bless it, and approve it with a text,
Hiding the grossness with fair ornament?”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)
“Dog. A kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the worlds worship.”
—Ambrose Bierce (18421914)