Three new rules introduced to protect high school football players
Concern about the short- and long-term effects of concussions have prompted changes in high school football, and on Thursday, three more rules were announced aimed to minimizing the risk of injury.@
The rules changes will affect over a million boys who play football at the high school level. About 1,800 girls played the sport in 2011-12.
The three new rules were among ten rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee at its January 18-20 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
Last year, a new rule went into effect requiring players to sit out one play if their helmet comes off while the ball is live. The new rules are extensions of that change.
An illegal personal contact foul was added to Rule 9-4-3 to state that "no player or nonplayer shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off."
In addition, a new listing in Rule 9-6-4 will state that it is illegal participation "for a player whose helmet comes completely off during a down to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged."
The committee also added language to Rule 3-5-10 to clarify that if the helmet comes completely off during the down or subsequent dead-ball action related to the down - and is not directly attributable to a foul by the opponent - the player must leave the game for at least one down, with the exception of halftime or overtime intermission. When this occurs, an official's time-out shall be called.
One of the most significant rules change next season will be one that reduces the penalty for pass interference. While the 15-yard penalty will remain for both offensive and defensive pass interference, the loss of down has been removed for offensive pass interference and the automatic first down has been eliminated for defensive pass interference.
Another change at high school football games next year will be the expanded use of communication devices. In specific situations, coaches, players and nonplayers will be allowed to use any form of communication technology.
This expansion of the rule allows the use of communication devices during authorized conferences outside the nine-yard marks, on the sidelines and during the halftime intermission. Use of communication devices by players except conferences outside the nine-yard mark continues to be prohibited.
In Rule 2-4-1, the committee clarified the rule approved last year regarding the definition of a catch, which stated that a receiver is required to establish possession of the ball and contact the ground inbounds while maintaining possession - regardless of the opponent's action.
In Rule 9-3-8, the committee added another provision to the rule enacted last year regarding contact by the kicking team against members of the receiving team. The new provision stipulates that the kicking team may initiate contact once the receiving team has initiated a block within the neutral zone.
The committee also approved the addition of a 15-yard penalty to the existing option of accepting an awarded fair catch for kick-catch interference.
Finally, in Rule 8-3-3, the committee clarified that the touchdown scoring team is the only team that can score on a try, and in Rule 1-5-3 the committee modified the rule regarding the wearing of towels.