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NFHS tightens definition of illegal check to head to make boys’ game safer

Wednesday, 18th August 2010

Categories Boy's/Men's, High School, Posted 8/18/10

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) boys’ Lacrosse Rules Committee has tightened its definition of an illegal body check to the head in hopes of keeping the sport safer.

The NFHS Board of Directors approved four rule changes at its committee meeting late last month. The rule changes were made public today in a press release.

The definition of an illegal body check in high school boys’ lacrosse (Rule 5.3) widens next season to include initiating contact directly to an opponent’s head or initiating contact to an opponent’s body that then follows through to the head.

“There were already some provisions in the rules that prohibited head-to-head contact but the committee wanted to remove checking with or to the head from the game,” said Kent Summers, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the boys’ Lacrosse Rules Committee. “Spearing – leading with the top of your head into another player – has been illegal for a number of years. Now, anytime a player initiates a check with his head or to his opponent’s head, it is a violation.”

“The committee wants to minimize and hopefully eliminate head injuries from the game,” Summers said.

The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s clarification of concussion procedures, which is now part of all NFHS sports rules, was added to Rule 4-28-7. That rule now states that “any player who exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion (such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems) shall be immediately removed from the game and shall not return to play until cleared by an appropriate health-care professional.”

In other changes, Rule 1-2-1 now stipulates that “if a field of play has a logo in the center or at any other part of the field of play, that logo should not obstruct the visibility of the required marks. A solid or shadow-bordered line is permissible.” The committee defines a shadow line as a line that designates the continuation of the required line by a border or outlines, at least ¼-inch wide.

“This has been a big problem,” Summers said. “The center of the field must be clearly defined so officials can correctly administer a face-off and can identify where to award the ball in certain situations.”

The final rules change allows contrasting colored piping, 1/8-inch wide or less, on uniforms. This rule was changed in 2008 to alleviate officials’ confusion about contrasting-colored yokes. Piping does not pose this problem.

In addition to the four rules changes, the committee also specified eight editorial changes. The three most significant editorial changes are:

• 1-10-1b – Hard and unyielding items (guards, casts, braces, splints, etc.) on the hand, wrist, forearm, elbow or upper arm are prohibited unless it is necessary to protect an injury. If worn, the area of the body must be padded with a closed-cell, slow-recovery foam padding no less than ½-inch thick. Knee and ankle braces which are unaltered from the manufacturer’s original design/production do not require any additional padding.

• 4-3-5 – The official will sound the whistle promptly after readying the ball for play and stating the word “set.” For hearing-impaired players, a reasonable accommodation for the “set” command and whistle sound will be provided.

• 5-6-3 – Slashing shall include striking an opponent on any part of the body with the crosse (including its cap end), except when done by a player in the act of passing, shooting or attempting to scoop the ball.

Boys’ lacrosse had 88,596 participants in 1,984 schools during the 2008-09 season, according to the High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS.


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