2022 Team Sports Rules Conference Recap

Team Sports Rules Conference — Conrad Indianapolis Hotel

On April 18–19, 2022, the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, along with the National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS) and the NCAA, hosted the 2022 Team Sports Rules Conference to discuss team sports rules, standards, and regulations. The event included individual presentations from leading sports governing bodies and organizations and concluded with breakout sessions on specific sports to discuss any changes to rules or challenges.

Team Sports Rules Conference — April 19

The event kicked off on Monday night, April 18, with an SFIA Baseball/Softball Business Council Meeting, followed by an informal happy hour reception for all attendees. There was a lot of excitement in the air as sports and fitness industry professionals gathered for the first time in-person since 2019 for this event from across the country.

“This year’s conference was productive, enlightening, and energetic, which is exactly what the industry needed after two years with very few in-person events,” said Tom Cove, CEO & President, SFIA. “We were thrilled to see a full house of team sports companies along with NCAA, NFHS, and national governing body executives come together to address our mutual needs and challenges.”

Tom Cove, CEO & President, SFIA

The morning program began with a presentation from Karissa Neihoff, CEO, NFHS. Neihoff detailed NFHS’ strategic plan, which included a focus on student mental, emotional, and physical wellness; diversity, equity, and inclusion; sportsmanship, ethics, and integrity; education-based programs; and officiating. They also discussed NFHS Board priorities and some of the upcoming initiatives they are collaborating with other organizations on.

The areas of concern NFHS is seeing include the influence on the recruiting process (the interpretation of NCAA language causing confusion), threats to high school eligibility, threats to state association regulations, exacerbation of inequities, and threats to the culture and chemistry of school locker rooms.

Karissa Neihoff, CEO, NFHS presentation

NFHS also discussed football initiatives they are working on, including a participation survey and some of the results, tackling and blocking training courses, and a focused marketing campaign.

Lastly, the presentation concluded with information on NFHS new learning center, which includes 80+ courses (50+ free) for coaches, students, administrators, parents, officials, and the performing arts. Learn more by visiting NFHSLearn.com.

Our second presentation came from Geoff Silver, Managing Director of Academic and Membership Affairs, NCAA. The main parts of the presentation centered around NIL and the transfer rule, and the cascade of issues that have come up because of those. The NCAA believes it is difficult to conduct fair championships with the playing field being all over the place, and is really trying to address the concerns around recruiting and ensuring a level field. NCAA believes that these athletes do deserve some compensation, but with the playing field so uneven, the creation of policies is a work in progress and is constantly evolving.

Geoff Silver, Managing Director of Academic and Membership Affairs, NCAA presentation

The NCAA says more will come shortly regarding an economic package and the benefits associated with being a college athlete, and they are handling potential NIL restrictions conflicts on a case-by-case basis. There are also discussions being had on the impact of the new, more flexible transfer portal windows provisions and permissions on high school athletes and incoming freshmen.

Youth Sports Development Presentations
Marc Riccio, CEO, USA Lacrosse provided our first presentation on youth sports development as it relates to USA Lacrosse. Riccio discussed how COVID-19 and a new CEO provided an opportunity to reset and become more mission-focused and commercial-minded, with the five strategic pillars including establishing a customer-centric membership and value proposition; growing lacrosse’s addressable audience; creating lacrosse experiences that elevate brand, revenue, and mission; and advocate and invest in sustainable programs that develop lacrosse in ALL communities.

Marc Riccio, CEO, USA Lacrosse presentation

Nicole Hollomon, Research Director, USA Football, provided our second youth sports presentation with an examination of experiences in youth football. Nicole presented the group with a football development model, which included education and training at the center — with whole person and multi-sport development, physical literacy and progressive skill development, multiple entry points and pathways, and fun and filling experiences corresponding with it. Those elements will lead to participation and retention, positive experiences, and well-rounded athletes and humans. USA Football conducted a participation and experiences study in relation to retention and precipitation, which covered many different areas including coaching, skills/qualities, pressures to focus on one sport, and financial challenges.

Nicole Holloman, Research Director, USA Football, Presentation

State of the Industry
Tom Cove, President & CEO, SFIA, concluded the main portion of the program and presented on the state of the industry — including industry performance in 2021, COVID trends in sports participation, a deep dive into team sports, and future trends and growth indicators for the industry. The main takeaways were that overall business for the sports and fitness industry is good, product sales are strong, growth is sustained, and team sports participation has recovered — not yet at 2019 levels — but it is expected to surpass those numbers this year. Some of the challenges we are still dealing with is the continued issues with the supply chain, and the cost increases of raw materials, logistics, and labor for industry products.

Tom Cove, President & CEO, SFIA presentation

Following our main program, NFHS and NCAA led sport-specific breakout sessions, with some sessions including SFIA Business Council Meetings built-in, to discuss any changes in rules or regulations for equipment or game-play:

· Establish the following guidelines for NCAA required bat testing beginning with the 2021 season:
- A visual inspection of the bat
- Conduct a ring test
- Conduct bat barrel compression testing

· All bats used in competition must undergo the bat testing procedure and be identified as approved with a destructible sticker
· The effective date for barrel compression testing at Division II and Division III has been delayed to the 2022 championship season

NFHS: No rules changes at this time

· Have approved new officials’ shirt — grey and white striped — for women
· Allowing additional commemorative patch (last year); can be up to 4 square inches — up from 2 ¼ inches
· 10th of a second is now allowed to be visible on the shot clock (like NBA)
· Long-sleeve undershirts are now allowed

· State association adoption of the shot clock
- Member associations may adopt 35-second shot clock, regulated by a visible shot clock
- Each state to authorize the use of the shot clock as a state adoption

· Religious headwear not made of abrasive or hard material and that fits securely is now allowed; still working on hair beads
· Visit here for more: https://www.nfhs.org/sports-resource-content/basketball-rules-changes-2021-22/

Field Hockey
· Following rules of FIH, including their recent change in cage-style masks, with some small modifications; cages are allowed
· In complying with FIH, defenders are allowed to keep their protective equipment on after the ball goes outside the circle — before removing them at the first opportunity inside the 23m area

· Hair adornments, such as beads, may be worn in the hair if they are secured and do not present a risk of injury to the player, teammates, or opponents
· Memorial/commemorative patch can be up to 4 square inches, up from 2 ¼ inches — can be on sleeve, collarbone, or on the back where the nameplate is
· Players are permitted to wear face masks throughout the game provided they are smooth, rounded, preferably transparent or single-colored, and fit flush with the face; cages are not allowed
· Goggles may be worn by all players — some states are mandating that googles be worn, others discussing — especially in situations where a bad eye injury has occurred in that state (in Maine, for example)

· The NCAA will require knees to be covered — they may be covered by the pant, long socks, or leggings, but must be covered

· Football Jersey Numbers RULE 1–5–1c(3) The entire body of the number (the continuous horizontal bars and vertical strokes) exclusive of any border(s) shall be approximately 1 1/2 — inches wide
· Football JERSEY numbers RULES 1–5–1c; 1–5–1c(6) Effective with the 2024 season, the entire body of the number (the continuous horizontal bars and vertical strokes) shall be a single solid color that clearly contrasts with the body color of the jersey
· Please check with Bob Colgate at the NFHS office on any questions on jersey numbers as numerous styles are illegal in 2024
· Starting in 2023, jerseys that do cover the entire shoulder pad will be illegal equipment
· Starting in 2023, jerseys that do not cover protective pad in the lower back or waist area will be considered illegal equipment
· Starting in 2023, football uniform pants that do not cover the pants will be illegal equipment
· Tooth and mouth protectors can be decorated, but cannot have rings or protrusions that can be caught in the hand
· Football helmet visors must be clear

Ice Hockey
NCAA: No rules changes
· Following tragic incident in USA Hockey, discussions are being had on protective neckwear, but no proposal at this time

NCAA: No rules changes
· A protective cup or pelvic protector is now required (previously recommended) for all players. Wearing this piece of equipment will be the player’s responsibility and mirrors other NFHS rule sets (Rule 1–9)
· The implementation date requiring that shoulder pads are designed for lacrosse and meet NOCSAE standard ND200 is January 1, 2022

· Under Rule 2–6–1a, goalkeepers are no longer required to wear shin protectors. This equipment is still recommended for goalkeepers, but with no injury data and no safety standard in place, the committee opted to align with both the collegiate rule and the boys’ rules. Goalkeepers still have the option to wear shin protection with padding up to one inch in thickness. A change to Rule 2–6–1 also details a new equipment option for goalkeepers — the allowance to wear tinted eyeglasses under a non-rigid helmet eye shield
· Rule 2–7–7, which permits participants to wear secured, non-abrasive head coverings for religious or cosmetic reasons without first obtaining state association approval

NCAA: No rules changes
NFHS: No rules changes

· Expected to have a standard uniform for referees in 2023
NFHS: No rules changes

· For all new construction, it is required that the fence be 6 feet or higher and a minimum of 190 feet in left and right fields, or the recommended distance of 200 feet, and 220 feet in center field
· Standardize ball specifications with NFHS and USA Softball to a maximum compression of 275–375 pounds. Required implementation by January 1, 2024

· Clarifies bases may be designed to disengage from their anchor system
· Balls manufactured with the former specifications will be permitted through 2024, to allow for manufacturers and schools to reduce current inventory. The new ball specifications are permitted for use during the 2021–22 season and will be required by January 1, 2025
· Removes the language prohibiting hard items to control the hair in the sport of softball
· Permits players to wear soft and secure headwear for religious purposes without prior state association approval

Track & Field
· Now allowed to wear commemorative patches on uniforms
· Clearer definitions on many rules

· Manufacturers' logos on waistbands are now allowed
· Religious headwear is allowed
· Clearer definitions of many rules
· Visit here for more: https://www.nfhs.org/sports-resource-content/track-field-and-cross-country-rules-changes-2022/

NCAA: No rules changes
· High school wrestlers may now have facial hair on the entire face and chin, provided a skin check — previously had to be clean-shaven
· Wrestlers may wear hair-control devices and other adornments in the hair that are securely fastened and do not present an increased risk to the wrestler or opponents
· In the event a wrestler’s shoelace becomes untied or the shoe comes off during a match, a wrestler will now be penalized for stalling
· New clarification for female wrestlers’ uniforms — women to wear a sports bra that provides coverage and minimizes exposure, as well as compression shirts if more coverage is needed
· Visit here for more: https://www.nfhs.org/articles/eased-restrictions-on-facial-hair-among-2022-23-high-school-wrestling-rules-changes/

· 85+ beach volleyball institutions; continues to grow around the country
· Now allowed to wear stud earrings
· Now allowed to wear commemorative patches or last names on uniforms
· Volleyball is very healthy and we have seen many issues in recent past
· Visit here for more: https://www.ncaa.com/news/volleyball-women/article/2022-02-22/panel-approves-permanent-change-womens-college-volleyball-challenge-rules

· Manufacturers' logos on waistbands are now allowed
- Manufacturers’ logos rules are still in effect for everything else

· Men’s volleyball has voiced they would like to change to use the NCAA version of the ball, but no movement has come from it yet

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Some of the major companies in attendance included:
Asics, BSN Sports, Mizuno USA, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Rawlings, Champro, Riddell, Mikasa, Wilson Sporting Goods, Augusta Sportswear, Easton, STX, NFL Ventures, GARED, Schutt, Russell Athletic, United Sports Brand

SAVE THE DATE for next year’s Team Sports and Rules Conference, taking place on April 17–18, 2023, in Indianapolis.

For more information on the Team Sports Rules Conference, please contact Gregg Hartley.



Sports and Fitness Industry Association (SFIA)

SFIA is the leading global trade association in the sports & fitness industry. SFIA is the #1 source for sport & fitness research. More info at www.sfia.org.