Changes add leniency to high school jewelry rule

posted Oct 20, 2010, 8:14 AM by Mass TFOA   [ updated Oct 22, 2010, 8:54 AM ]

As we approach the end of the cross country season with its league championships and MIAA meets, that old bugaboo – jewelry – will vex officials, coaches and athletes alike.

In July, 2010, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee announced a change to the jewelry rule that modifies the penalty, making it more lenient. The final, revised language of the rule was adopted in August, 2010.

The change to rule 4-3-3, approved by the NFHS Board of Directors, went into effect with the 2010-2011 school year, applying to cross country competition.

The new rule now gives a team warning for the first jewelry violation when observed during competition.

While jewelry is still prohibited in all events under Rule 4-3-3, the first violation witnessed by an official will now result in a team warning. The observing official will report to the meet referee, who will then notify the coach of the offending school. All subsequent violations will result in a disqualification of the athlete(s)/relay team from the event.

Becky Oakes, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee, said the committee was trying to remain consistent with other sports that prohibit jewelry without being too harsh.

“Other than a handful of field events with minimal risk minimization concerns, there isn’t a real risk of injury in this sport from wearing jewelry,” Oakes said.

The rule change:

4-3-3  PENALTY: For the first violation, the competitor shall be required to remove the jewelry before further competition, the team shall receive a team warning and a subsequent violation by any team member shall result in disqualification from the event.  The referee shall be notified of the violation by the observing meet official and he/she shall then notify the head coach of the offending school of the violation and the team warning.

NOTE:  The ultimate responsibility to have each competitor compliant with uniform and jewelry rules is with the coach.

Rationale:  Recognizes the minimal risk of injury when wearing jewelry, but acknowledges an increased risk in some events.  Penalty severity is reduced in accordance with the rule violation.  Removes immediate disqualification and affords the head coach the opportunity to reduce disqualifications.

Other changes to 4-3-3 include:

4-3-3-a:  Changes the requirements while wearing a medical alert medal to accommodate several new styles of bracelets.
 Rationale:  There are several new styles of medical alert bracelets on the market, such as cloth, vinyl and rubber that would not pose a risk of injury to the participant or others and therefore no longer require taping to the body.  A necklace must always be taped to the body.  

4-3-3-new d:  Allows bobby pins, barrettes and hair clips no longer than 2 inches to be worn to control a competitor’s hair.
 Rationale:  Allows certain types of devices, when securely affixed, to be worn to control the hair.  They do not pose an injury risk and are not considered jewelry.

For a list of all changes adopted by NFHS, see NFHS rules changes reflect more lenient penalties.

October 2010 Paul Williams