NFHS rules changes reflect more lenient penalties

posted Jul 22, 2010, 12:51 PM by Paul Williams   [ updated Oct 18, 2010, 9:05 AM by Mass TFOA ]
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 2, 2010) — Several of the 15 new rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee have more lenient penalties than in the past, including a team warning for the first jewelry violation when observed during competition. The changes, which were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors, will take effect with the 2010-11 school year.
While jewelry is still prohibited in all track and field events under Rule 4-3-3, the first violation witnessed by an official will now result in a team warning. The observing official shall 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 committee, after discussion and review of the questionnaire, believed this penalty was more appropriate.”
With regard to medical-alert medals, which are not considered jewelry and are allowed, the rule now reads that the alert should be visible. Oakes said the committee thought medical alerts that aren’t visible defeat the purpose of wearing information that may be important to those responding to an emergency, and responders may need immediate access to the alert.
The rule has also been updated to reflect new technology in medical-alert notification items. Any bracelet made of metal or an unyielding material still needs to be taped to the body, but a bracelet made of pliable material does not require taping. Medals worn on necklaces of any kind still need to be taped to the body. 
Additionally, Rules 4-3-3 and 9-6-7 were amended to allow additional means of hair control. Unadorned devices, such as bobby pins, barrettes and hair clips, no longer than two inches, may be worn to control a competitor’s hair. This rule was updated to reflect common practice in some states and achieve consistency throughout the rule’s application. These items for hair control are not considered dangerous for the contestant and are not considered jewelry or adornment.
“The committee is open to other means of hair control, such as flat clips,” Oakes said. “The rule change doesn’t open up the wearing of adornments or other items that pose a risk of injury.”
Other rules changes allow more leniencies in what is considered a foul, primarily in high jump and pole vault. Under Rule 7-2-12, if improperly fastened supports slip downward when a jumper hits the crossbar, it shall be ruled a no jump and the jumper will get another trial, regardless of the initial jump’s result.
In the same vein, a note was added to Rule 7-5-29a that if a crossbar and/or uprights are placed incorrectly by the contest officials and the crossbar is displaced by the competitor, the trial is not recorded and the competitor receives an additional trial.
“All of these things used to be fouls,” Oakes said. “But if equipment is placed improperly by the officials or there is an equipment malfunction, the rules should not penalize the jumper.”
The committee also approved several other rules changes in field events. First, Rule 7-5-16 has been deleted and replaced with new guidelines for the warm-up of pole vault competitors who have passed three consecutive heights and not entered the competition. Those competitors are now allowed two minutes of warm-up jumps per competitor entering at that height. These competitors often sit out long enough that a proper warm-up is in order. Such a warm-up wasn’t being provided by the old rule that allowed only one warm-up jump.
Rules 7-4-11 and 7-5-18 have been modified to clarify protocol when there is only one competitor left in a vertical jump competition. Only after that person has been determined the event winner may he or she determine successive heights of the crossbar.
Additionally, a revision to both throwing and jumping rules allows for a change in the order of competition. The head judge may now change the order, in both preliminaries and finals, to accommodate those who may be excused to participate in other events. Competitors may take more than one trial in succession.
Following are other changes made by the NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee:
·         A significant editorial change that will affect all sports requires that any athlete who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion, including but not limited to loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems, must be removed from the contest immediately and shall not return to play before being cleared by an appropriate health-care professional.
·         In addition, Rule 4-4-1 was added, stating that if a hard or unyielding item, such as a guard, cast, etc., is worn, it is up to the referee to determine if padding is required. Such padding shall be closed-cell, slow-recovery foam no less than one-half-inch thick. Unaltered knee and ankle braces do not require any additional padding.
·         Rule 4-4-2 clarifies the use of prosthetics in track and field. Each state association may authorize the use of a prosthesis, which in its opinion, is no more dangerous to competitors and/or equipment than the corresponding human body part(s) and does not place an opponent at a disadvantage.
·         New to the rules book but commonly practiced, a letter of authorization shall be provided by the state association for any modifications to uniforms or equipment due to medical or religious reasons. The letter shall be made available to the meet referee prior to the beginning of competition.
·         Rule 3-3-1 identifies the meet director as the official representative of host meet management; 3-3-2 makes that person responsible for handling unsporting conduct by spectators and other matters outside of competition rules.
A complete listing of all rules changes approved by the committee is available on the NFHS Web site at Click on “Athletics & Fine Arts Activities” on the home page, and select “Track and Field.”
Outdoor track and field is the second-most popular sport for boys, with 558,007 participants, and most popular sport for girls, with 457,732 participants, at the high school level, according to the 2008-09 NFHS Athletics Participation Survey. The sport ranks second in school sponsorship with 15,936 schools sponsoring the sport for boys and 15,864 sponsoring the sport for girls.
[The above press release on 2010-11 high school track and field rules changes as approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee and the NFHS Board of Directors.] 
[The changes in more detail. See also]

NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Changes 2011

3-3-1:  Identifies the meet director as the official representative of host meet management.
Rationale:  Identifies who is the official representative of the host school or meet management.

3-3-new 2:  Responsibility for handling unsporting conduct by spectator(s) or other issues outside of the competition rules falls on the meet director and/or his/her designee.
Rationale:  Identifies who is responsible for handling conduct and other matters involving spectators or issues outside of the competition rules.  

4-3-3 new PEN:  Modifies the penalty for the wearing of jewelry.  A first violation will no longer result in immediate disqualification, instead a team warning will be issued and any subsequent violation by any team member will result in disqualification from the event.
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.

4-3-3a:  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.

4-3-new 7         Places a long-standing informal procedure within the rules for the state association and school to follow when an accommodation/modification of the rules for participation is made due to medical or religious reasons.
Rationale:  Includes a procedure to follow when an accommodation/modification of the rules for participation is approved by the state association due to medical or religious reasons.

4-new 4-1:  Clarifies the rules regarding braces, casts and padding.
Rationale:  Clarification of rules regarding braces, casts, etc., from the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

4-new 4-2:  Clarifies the rules regarding the use of a prosthesis.
Rationale:  Clarification of rules regarding the wearing of a prosthesis and process to follow for approval during competition.

4-new 4-3:  Clarifies the rules regarding concussion management.
Rationale: Clarification of rules regarding concussion management from the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.

6-2-6 and 7-2-6:  The head event judge may change the order of competition and permit successive trials to accommodate those who may be excused to participate in other events. 
Rationale:  Addresses the needs of competitors and creates consistency between jumping and throwing event rules regarding excused competitors.  In the vertical jumps, it may be necessary to allow a competitor to make consecutive attempts for the same reason as the horizontal jumps when being excused to participate in another event.

7-2-12:  It is no longer a failed attempt if the crossbar is displaced and there is a malfunction of meet equipment in jumping events.
Rationale:  Competitors shall not be penalized if their performances are affected by the malfunctioning of meet equipment.  

7-4-11 and 7-5-18:  In a vertical jump competition, when only one competitor remains and has been declared the winner, he/she may then determine successive heights of the crossbar.
Rationale:  When a single competitor remains in a vertical jump competition and has been declared the winner, he/she should have the opportunity at this point to determine successive heights of the crossbar.

7-5-new 16:  Changes the pole vault warm-up procedure for a competitor who has passed three consecutive heights and has not yet entered the competition.
Rationale:  Competitors passing on three or more consecutive heights often sit out a significant time and need the opportunity for proper warm-up rather than only one warm-up jump/run through.

7-5-29a new NOTE:  Clarifies the procedure to be used following the improper placement of the crossbar or uprights on an unsuccessful attempt in the pole vault.
Rationale:  Clarifies the procedure to follow should the crossbar have been improperly placed or uprights set incorrectly on an unsuccessful attempt in the pole vault.

Major Editorial Changes

Entire Book, 3-2-7, 3-7-3, 3-8, 3-9, 3-17-2, 4-3, 4-3-1b(7), 4-3-4 PEN, 4-5-3, 5-4-4, 5-5-7, 6-4-9c, 7-5-1, 7-5-29d, 7-6-10, 7-6-new 11, 7-6-12, 9-2-4, 9-6-1, 9-6-5

Points of Emphasis
1.  Excused Time from Field Event
2.  Discus Cage Guidelines
3.  Preventive Officiating
4.  Concussion Management, Casts, Braces, Prostheses and Blood on Uniform