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Changes in rules for high school sports

Concussion protocol tops list of high school rules changes

From the MHSAA

EAST LANSING—One of the biggest rules changes ever affecting the health of all interscholastic athletes takes effect as the 2010-11 fall sports season begins for over 110,000 students in eight sports.

Keeping safety at the forefront of school sports, the Michigan High School Athletic Association Representative Council approved a five-step protocol to be followed during the course of contests when an athlete sustains an apparent concussion, which will be utilized in all sports at all levels beginning with the 2010-11 school year. The National Federation of State High School Associations had previously adopted language to appear in all rules books beginning this fall calling for the removal from a contest of an athlete exhibiting the signs of a potential concussion, leaving the mechanics—including the clearing of a young person to return to play—to be decided by each state association.

Here is a summary of the protocols for all regular-season and MHSAA post-season tournament contents to be applied:  Officials will have no role in determining if an athlete has sustained a concussion, but will only point out to the head coach that the player has been apparently injured and should be examined by a health care provider. If the school’s designated heath care profession at the event confirms a concussion did not occur, the athlete may reenter the contest. In the event the game continues and the athlete is withheld for an apparent concussion, the athlete may not return to play that day and may only return at a future date after a written clearance is issued by an MD or a DO. The game official will file a report with the MHSAA and the removed player’s school. For MHSAA post-season tournaments where an MHSAA-assigned physician is present, that individual will make the determination regarding same day return to play.

At its June meeting, the MHSAA Executive Committee followed-up on the Council action by approving sanctions for non-compliance with the concussion management policy. A student-athlete who returns to competition in a subsequent meet or contest without the written authorization of an MD or DO after being removed from play for exhibiting concussion-like symptoms and not being cleared by the school’s designated medical authority to return to that contest is considered to be an ineligible player, and any competition in which the student-athlete participates without the proper authorization is forfeited. The school will be place in probation in that sport through the end of that sports season of the following year.  A second offense in that sport during probation will result in the extension of the probation for an additional year, and the school will be prohibited from participating in the MHSAA post-season tournament in that sport during the original and extended probation period.

In addition, the MHSAA will be working in cooperation with the Brain Injury Association of Michigan to develop a variety of methods to promote public awareness of the issue of concussions in youth sports and the new MHSAA concussion protocols.

The major football rules change in Michigan this season is a modification to the point differential rule, which provides for a running clock beginning with the second half of a game where a team has a lead of 35 points or more.  The original rule provides for the clock to stop after scoring plays, for called time outs, for penalty enforcement and for injury time outs.  New this year will be a modification where the clock only stops for injury time outs once the point differential meets or exceeds 50 points.

Other gridiron rules changes include the following: any play resulting in a touchdown during which team commits an unsportsmanlike or nonplayer foul will allow the offended team to have its choice of the penalty being forced on the subsequent extra point or kickoff; horse-collar penalties can be called even if the act is completed after the ball becomes dead or the runner loses possession; if an official and a coach unintentionally collide in the restricted area in front of the team bench during a play, a 15-yard penalty will be called and a second penalty for the same infraction will result in the ejection of the head coach; and if a player, coach or nonplayer is in the restricted zone while the ball is live but no contact with an official occurs, the progression will be a warning on the first offense, a five-yard penalty the second time, and the third offense resulting in a 15-yard penalty and the ejection of the head coach.

The most visible rules change in girls volleyball is the addition of a blue-gray-white ball to the game for regular-season competition. For MHSAA Tournaments, however, the solid white ball will be the only ball allowed. Schools conducting “Pink Out” contests to raise money for Volley For The Cure may utilize a pink ball.

In soccer, the overtime procedures have been modified for MHSAA Tournaments.  Beginning this year, the two 10-minute overtime periods will be played to completion, rather than the game concluding with the first goal scored.  After the two overtime periods, penalty kicks will be used to determine a winner at all levels of the Tournament.  Regular season overtime procedures are left to be determined by local leagues and conferences.

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