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H.S. Football Players Must Now Leave Field After Losing Helmet

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) announced yesterday eight rule changes that were recently approved by its board of directors, including one that requires high school football players to leave the field for at least one down if their helmet comes off during a play.

The change does not apply to players who lose their helmet as a direct result of a foul from an opponent, however.

"The committee made this rules change after reviewing data from multiple states regarding the frequency of helmets coming off during live-ball play," said Julian Tackett, the commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and chair of the NFHS football rules committee, in a statement. "It is the committee's hope that this serves notice for schools to properly fit players with helmets to reduce the incidence of these situations and remind the players not to take steps that alter the fit."

Speaking of which... Tomorrow, at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's "Specialty Day" in San Francisco, researchers will be presenting their findings about how proper-fitting helmets can reduce the risk of concussion in youth athletes.

According to their abstract (Paper 17), athletes wearing properly fitting helmets were 80 percent less likely to experience loss of consciousness stemming from hits to the head. Based on their findings, "helmet fit is an important and easily modifiable risk factor for severe concussion injury," the paper says.

The new helmet rule wasn't the only notable change for high school football programs. Another new policy, Rule 1-2-3l, will now allow schools to open their football fields to corporate advertisements, so long as the ads don't block the yard lines, hash marks, or nine-yard marks on the field.

Previously, schools could only display advertisements in the end zones and outside the field.

For schools already dealing with tight budgets, on-field advertising may end up being another boon to keeping their athletic programs up and running. Many people, though, complain that the commercialism hampers schools' academic mission.

Roughly 57 percent of 360 high schools said they've accepted money to keep their K-12 sports programs afloat, according to The National Survey of Interscholastic Sport Sponsorship, published last year in the Sport Management International Journal.

Want all the latest K-12 sports news? Follow @SchooledinSport on Twitter.

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