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2007 Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Interpretations

Publisher's Note: The National Federation of State High School Associations is the only source of official high school interpretations. They do not set aside nor modify any rule. They are made and published by the NFHS in response to situations presented.
Robert F. Kanaby, Publisher, NFHS Publications © 2007

Corrections to Rule Book: Page 25, Rule 4-3-1 Note, "Only one American flag and/or commemorative or memorial patch may be displayed on the uniform (one two piece)"; page 47, Rule 6-5-4 Note, delete "or 60";

Corrections to Case Book: Page 4, Part I, 4.3.1 Situation A, change ruling and comment to, "Illegal. COMMENT: The contestant may only wear one American flag, commemorative patch on the uniform (one or two piece)"

SITUATION 1: At the start of a cross country race, Team A members appear at the starting line wearing headgear with fake antlers attached (the school's mascot being "the elks"). The referee directs the competitors to remove this headwear. The coach objects as the games committee did not prohibit headwear. RULING: Correct procedure. COMMENT: Although the wearing of headwear is not prohibited, the wearing of outlandish apparel that is demeaning to the sport should not be approved. It is helpful if headwear is permitted that the games committee specify "headwear which is reasonable and not demeaning to the competition." This would apply to any item worn in excess of the school-issued uniform. (3-2-4o)

SITUATION 2: An invitational track meet is being conducted. The state association prohibits all hats during competition except for the wearing of stocking caps due to cold weather. At the meet, the coach of school B wants the games committee to allow 3200-meter run contestants to wear baseball caps. The meet referee denies based on state association requirements. RULING: Correct procedure. COMMENT: The state association has the authority to adopt a statewide restriction. In this situation, the games committee would adopt this restriction as if it were its own. All teams in the meet would be obligated to adhere to the adopted restrictions. Officials and coaches should be knowledgeable of all state association competition policies. (3-2-4o)

SITUATION 3: A competitor shows up at the starting line for the state cross country meet with a commemorative patch sewn on both the uniform top and the uniform bottom. RULING: Illegal uniform. COMMENT: Only one patch is permitted on the uniform top or bottom but not both. The competitor is not eligible to participate in an illegal uniform. Meet officials should have the competitor correct the uniform to make it legal if this can be done without an unnecessary delay. It is important that coaches inspect their athletes' uniforms in advance of competition to be certain uniforms are legal. (4-3-1c6 and 9-6-1b7)

SITUATION 4: Team A's high school is 100 years old. The cross country teams want to display a special commemorative patch on the front of the uniform shorts and on the top center on the back of the uniform top. The coach contacts the school's athletic director to verify if this is legal before placing any items on the uniforms. The athletic director confirms that only one commemorative patch is permitted on the uniform. RULING: Correct. COMMENT: The track and field or cross country uniform may display a single American flag and/or a single commemorative or memorial patch on the uniform whether it is a one- or two-piece uniform. The items (flag and patch) could be worn on the top, the bottom or split, but no two of the same items are permitted. The coach was correct to verify the legality of the uniform before affixing any patches to the uniform. (4-3-1 Note, 9-6-1)

SITUATION 5: The teams participating in the 4 x 400m relay report to the bullpen and receive instructions from the clerk of the course. Two of Team A's relay team members are in illegal uniforms, which the clerk has overlooked. The teams are turned over to the starter and the race begins. The meet officials observe the illegal uniforms and Team A's relay team is disqualified. The coach of Team A wants to appeal that the clerk of the course was to have noted the problem so the competitors could have made the uniforms legal. The appeal is denied. RULING: Correct procedure. COMMENT: Although preventive officiating can many times prevent violations that result in disqualifications, the ultimate responsibility to have contestants in legal uniforms and using legal equipment rests with the school coach. (4-3-1 Penalty)

SITUATION 6: Two competitors approach the starting line for the 3200-meter run wearing sport watches and are allowed to compete. An opposing coach wants to review the meet referee's decision to permit the participation as the coach believes the watches are jewelry. RULING: Review denied, legal. COMMENT: Competitors shall not wear jewelry during competition. Rule 4-3-3 provides three exceptions for what is considered jewelry: 1) medical-alert medals, 2) religious medals and 3) a watch. If requirements of the rule are met, these items may be worn in competition. The state association may have further restrictions. (4-3-3)