July 4, 2012

Some rules changes for 2012-13

Sports Columnist

Last week the topic was the changes in the Cape-Atlantic League and New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association for the school year that begins in two months. This week the focus is on changes to the playing rules of high school sports.

Let’s start with fall sports and football.

Starting this season, players must sit out at least one play if their helmet comes off while the ball is live. In cases where the helmet comes completely off without it being directly attributable to a foul by the opponent, the player still will have to leave the game for at least one down.

Another significant change next season will be a new interpretation of a legal catch. A receiver now will be required to establish possession of the ball and contact the ground inbounds while maintaining possession – regardless of the opponent’s action. In previous years, the covering official could have ruled that an airborne player attempting to catch the ball would have come down inbounds, but was prevented from doing so because of contact by the opponent. Now, the player must establish possession and contact the ground inbounds for a legal catch, regardless of contact by the defense.

The Football Rules Committee also cleared the way for state associations and their member schools to place corporate advertising and commercial markings on the field of play. These types of markings previously were only allowed in the end zones and outside the field.

The committee eliminated the rule to prohibit members of the kicking team from initiating contact (blocking) against members of the receiving team until the ball has broken the plane of the receiving team’s restraining line, or until the kicking team is eligible to recover the free kick.

Also, play cards that are not worn on the wrist or arm are now illegal. And grasping the tooth and mouth protector, as well as the face mask, is a foul.

In field hockey, when a team requests a timeout it does not have, the offending coach must remove one player from the field for five minutes of playing time. Also, after committing a flagrant foul, the offending player and the head coach shall be removed from the field and the team will play short-handed.

In soccer, a player who receives a second yellow card in the same game will be disqualified with a red card and the team will play short-handed. And a non-goalie who intentionally touches the ball with his/her hand in an effort to prevent a goal will receive a yellow card if the goal is scored. If it is not scored, the offending player will be disqualified.

In the winter, wrestlers who are called for a third stalling violation will receive a stiffer penalty beginning with the 2012-13 season. In addition to the two-point penalty assessed for a third stalling violation, the opponent will now have his or her choice of position on the next restart. In addition, wrestlers may not wear wristbands, sweatbands or bicep bands during a match.

In another change, if the second injury time-out is taken at the conclusion of the first 30-second tiebreaker period and the opponent already has the choice at the beginning of the second 30-second tiebreaker period, the opponent would then have the added choice at the first restart after the beginning of the second 30-second tiebreaker period. Also, if two wrestlers in a championship bracket simultaneously cannot continue a match, the wrestler who is leading on points at the time the match is terminated will continue in the consolation bracket. If the match is tied at the time of termination, neither wrestler will continue. And a new rule will allow a tee shirt with no sleeves to be worn under the one-piece singlet when approved by the referee.

In basketball, for the purpose of determining team control fouls, the team throwing the ball in-bounds will be considered to be in control until the in-bound pass is controlled on the court. Officials have also been given four points of emphasis for next season – closely guarded situations, contact above the shoulders, intentional fouls and illegal contact guidelines.

There is one other rules change in basketball, but it will have no effect on the players or coaches. Instead, it will impact the sartorial style of people like Frank Marascio at Mainland, Jeff Wunder at Lower Cape May, Jill Mauger at Wildwood, Skip Angelo at Ocean City, Tracey Hall at Middle Township, Jim Malinowski at Wildwood Catholic, Tom Coyle at St. Augustine Prep, Brenda Rice at Atlantic City and even the legendary Harry Sachs.

They are some of the keepers of the official scorebook at area high schools. And they are all affected by the new rule that reads “The official scorer is required to wear a black-and-white vertically striped garment”.

No changes have yet been announced for spring sports but these are some of the rules changes that will affect fall and winter sports during the 2012-13 school year.

Read more of Tom Williams' columns