Player safety has been a recent hot- button issue at all levels of organized football and the NFHS wasted no time by making some significant rule changes for 2015. A recent study found that high school football players, are twice as likely than college football players to suffer a head trauma (i.e. concussions). Though high-school football is the most popular boys sport, injuries as a whole are a threat to the game and in some locations have led to an exodus where some football programs are now unable to field a team.
This past January the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee modified three previous rules to address player safety. Additionally, two rule changes provide further clarification to already established rules and one new rule in regards to series of down has been added.
Here’s a summary of the six rules modified for the 2015-2016 season.
- Rule 9-4-3g. No player or non-player shall make any contact with an opponent, including a defenseless player who is not in the vicinity of the ball, which is deemed unnecessary or excessive and which incites roughness.
- Rule 2-20. Spearing is now defined as “an act by any player who initiates contact against an opponent at the shoulders or below with the crown (top portion) of his helmet.
- Rule 6-1-4 is a new rule. It was added to state that the timing of the foul for not having at least four players on each side of the kicker on a free kick now occurs when the ball is kicked.
- Rule 9-4. Beginning next season, an automatic first down will not be awarded for a 5-yard incidental face-mask penalty against the passer.
- Rule 10-2-5. New language clarifies that the distance penalty for unsportsmanlike, non-player or dead-ball personal fouls committed by teams can offset. Equal numbers of 15-yard penalties by both teams will cancel and remaining penalties may be enforced.
- Rule 5-1-1b is also a new rule. It states that the referee shall have authority to correct the number of the next down prior to a new series of downs being awarded.
Last year 1,093,234 student-athletes participated in 11-man football at the high school level. Hopefully, these new rules will assure the safety of current players and fill more football rosters for the future.
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