AURORA — There will be an emphasis on enforcement of uniform and equipment rules during the 2018 football season.
The renewed focus has already been evident during clinics for officials which have started to take place this summer. Coaches will also be heavily informed of the emphasis during mandatory rules meetings before the season. In addition the topic will be discussed between officials and coaches during pregame meetings.
The uniform and equipment rules have been part of the NFHS rules, but "it has been enforced inconsistently," said CHSAA associate commissioner Tom Robinson, who oversees officials. "This season, those rules will be enforced consistently."
In addition — and this is new for the 2018 season — any player using improper equipment will be removed from play for one down. That was a rule change announced by the NFHS in February. A team can call a timeout, but the player still must miss a down.
If equipment or uniform violates the rules as a result of a play during the game, the player will be given the opportunity to fix it without missing a play — so long as it "does not delay the ready-for-play signal for more than 25 seconds," according to the new rule.
"This is similar to what we saw with mouthpieces, or chinstraps, or helmets coming off," Robinson said of the new rule. "Gradually, all these thing with equipment are now being addressed, either by a penalty, or by not being able to play."
Repeat offenses could result in an unsportsmanlike foul on either the player or the coach, Robinson added.
Among the focuses:
- Knee pads need to be worn under the pants, and they need to actually cover the knee.
- Jerseys should completely cover pads, and fit to the top of the pants. This means no players' stomachs should be showing, an emerging trend in recent seasons. Additionally, this means that the jersey should completely cover the shoulder pad at the shoulder.
- Thigh pads and hip pads also need to be worn.
Again, these rules have existed in the rule book, and are not new. There is, however, a renewed emphasis on enforcing them.
"We are not going to look the other way," said CHSAA assistant commissioner Bud Ozzello, who administers football. "It is a safety issue, and we are going to be sure they're properly equipped."
The hope is that the multi-pronged approach to the communication of this emphasis will limit the in-game infractions during the season. It will also be highlighted in the football bulletin, which is required reading for each coach.
"We want this addressed during each pregame meeting so they can make any necessary adjustments to their equipment or uniforms before the game begins," Ozzello said.