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Football rules change – disconcerting acts

Among the rules changes in high school football for the 2020-21 school year is an adjustment in the penalty assessed to the defense for disconcerting acts and sounds. Among the gamesmanship that sometimes takes place near the line of scrimmage at the start of the play, defensive players have been known to make sounds or act in a manner which otherwise might distract an offensive player waiting for the snap signal. Previously, the most egregious of these actions would be penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. But beginning this year, the disconcerting act foul is a five-yard penalty. The change in the rule actually makes it more likely that this kind of behavior will be flagged and may eventually lead to a reduction in this type of activity.

Be the Referee is a weekly message from the Michigan High School Athletics Association that is designed to help educate people on the rules in different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

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Be the Referee

Clocking the ball from the shotgun 

One of the other visible rules changes taking place this year in football pertains to the quarterback spiking the ball into the ground after receiving the snap from center in an attempt to stop the clock. Previously, clocking the ball in an effort to preserve time, could only be done from a traditional hand to hand snap from the center to the quarterback—which actually worked to the disadvantage of teams which run shotgun formations all the time. The rules change allows the quarterback from a shotgun formation to immediately spike the ball into the ground after receiving it to stop the clock with an incomplete pass, bringing the high school rule in line with the college and professional rules.

Be the Referee is a weekly message from the Michigan High School Athletics Association that is designed to help educate people on the rules in different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

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Basketball pregame meeting

By the MHSAA


Beginning in the 2019-20 basketball season, a mandated pregame conference will take place near the scorer’s table with approximately 13 minutes remaining on the pregame warm-up clock.

This conference will be conducted by the officials and will include the head coach and captains of both teams. This is required for both genders and at all levels.

Because important details will be covered at this conference specific to the game being played, the head coach must be present. Assistant coaches may not be sent in place of the head coach. A head coach’s failure to attend this conference will cause him/her to lose his/her coaching box privileges during the game.

This meeting ensures that all parties receive the same information, that each coach receives the same attention in the pregame conversations and that there is consistency across the state in the timing of the meeting.

Be the Referee is a weekly message from the Michigan High School Athletics Association that is designed to help educate people on the rules in different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

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