update on Nfhs football rule changes for 2020

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA (February 6, 2020) - There will be no rule changes from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) regarding football uniforms and equipment for the 2020-21 season. The six rule changes that were made involved game administration.

Rule proposals for helmets and facemasks to be the same color, use of compression sleeves, play cards and electronic communication devices and limits to what can be displayed on mouth protectors were not approved. Please see below for more details on the rule changes in these areas that were proposed. NSGA will continue to monitor them since they may be proposed again in the future.

Proposed 2020 NFHS Football Rule Changes Which Were Not Approved

Helmets and Face Masks - Proposed additions to Rule 1-5-1a have the color of the helmet and the color of the face masks being the same for all players on the team to ensure all players look alike. This prevents schools from giving out different colored helmets and/or face masks to show a player is better or has performed better than others and/or is a team captain. An exception would allow for different colored face masks if the team is a co-op made up of multiple schools. These changes would apply only to varsity teams.

Compression Sleeves - A proposed addition to Rule 1-5-3a would allow players to wear compression sleeves that are a single solid color with no more than one manufacturer's logo not to exceed 2 1/4-square inches. An increase in turf fields, and the resulting skin abrasions, has more players wanting to wear protection sleeves. These sleeves are allowed in other NFHS sports as long as they are a single solid color. They also do not pose a safety risk to the player wearing them or opponents. Two parts of the rule already cover that sleeves cannot be ball-colored and cannot be manufactured to enhance contact with the football or an opponent.

Play Cards - A proposed change to Rule 1-5-3c would allow for play cards to be worn on the belt. The rationale is this would not increase any injury risk and it is permitted at other levels of football.

Mouth Protectors - The proposed addition to Rule 1-5-3c would be similar to eye shade (or eye black) and would not allow any visible words, numbers, logos, images or other symbols. Manufacturers are offering specialty mouth protectors that can be designed with any image, wording or logo. Some players are writing their own messages to display on television and/or to their opponent. Examples include food advertisements, names, bloody and crooked teeth, flags of multiple nations, skull and crossbones and writing in foreign languages. The intent of the eye shade rule was to keep player from using their face to relay messages to the opponent or become an advertising billboard and the same would be true with a rule for mouthguards.

Electronic Communication Devices - The change to Rule 1-6-1 would make electronically generated signage which is visually transmitted to players permissible. The rationale of the proposal is electronic signs don't provide an advantage over manual placards, are more clearly visible on dimly lit fields and are no different than electronic scoreboards.

Instant Replay Procedures - Changes to Rule 1-3-7 would give state associations the jurisdiction to determine if they want to use instant replay procedures for regular and state postseason contests. The rationale is it allows for all games to be played under the same rules. The procedures and scope of the replay protocol would be developed by the state association.