George Guido: New equipment rules for high school football

August 4, 2018

Starting this season, football players with missing or improperly worn equipment during a play will head to the bench.

That’s the biggest rules change among three for the upcoming high school football season, as determined by the National Federation of High School State Associations.

Now, players who aren’t properly equipped will be removed from the game for at least one down.

No longer will a distance penalty be marched off against the offending team in that situation. Instead, the coach will be charged with an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

The rationale behind the new measure is that, prior to the game, the coach is responsible for verifying the players are “legally equipped and will not use illegal equipment.”

In another change, defenseless player provisions for passers were clarified. The national rulesmakers said those provisions do not apply to a passer until a legal forward pass is thrown.

The passer continues to be a defenseless player until the pass is thrown or the passer moves in to participate in the play.

The other change effective this season provides another option for teams on fouls committed by the kicking team during free kicks and scrimmage kicks. Now, the receiving team can accept a 5-yard penalty from the succeeding spot.

The previous three options remain: accept a 5-yard penalty from the previous spot and have the kicking team re-kick, put the ball in play at the inbounds spot 25 yards beyond the previous spot or decline the penalty and put the ball in play at the inbounds spot.

Soccer changes

One change in high school soccer rules is rather cosmetic.

The home team will wear dark jerseys and socks (dark is defined as any color that contrasts with white), and the visiting team will wear solid white jerseys and solid white socks. Before and during the game, jerseys will be tucked into the shorts, unless manufactured to be worn outside.

Also, both socks must be the same color, with the home team wearing socks of a single dominant color, but not necessarily the color of the jersey and the visiting team wearing solid white sock. If tape or a similar material (stays/straps) is applied externally to the socks, it must be of similar color as that part of the sock to which it is applied.

The NFHS said this change allows home teams to wear the school-colored jerseys at home. The change would provide the opportunity for teams to use an alternative color uniform for “special” events, if approved by the state association such as the PIAA.

Another cosmetic change deals with undergarments, especially when the first wave of cold weather hits Western Pennsylvania.

If visible apparel is worn under the jersey and/or shorts, it must be of similar length for an individual and a solid liked-color for the team.

The previous rule caused financial hardships for some players and schools. The new rule allows for the purchase of one set of cold-weather undergarments per player.

In addition to the above permitted uses, state associations may on an individual basis permit a player to participate while wearing a head covering if it meets medical, cosmetic or religious reasons.

On soccer kickoffs, all players, except the player taking the kickoff, must be in their team’s half of the field.

Players opposing the kicker should be at least 10 yards from the ball until it is kicked. That modifies a 2017 rules change allowing the kickoff to be taken in any direction.

It has created difficulty for the player taking the kick to easily kickoff into his/her own half of the field without physically being in the opponent’s half of the field. This addition to the rule would permit only the player taking the kickoff to be in the opponent’s half of the field, in order to take the kickoff.

Also, language has been added to articulate a player being in an offside position and committing an offside violation.

Four new yellow card situations also have been added, all dealing with denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.

In another attempt to maintain decorum, direct free kicks are awarded at the point of infraction if a player, coach, or bench personnel enters or leaves the pitch without permission from an official.

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