The National Federation of State High School Associations agreed upon an array of new track and field rules.

The National Federation of State High School Associations Board of Directors approved new track and field rules, which will alter the sport in both minute and apparent ways.

First, jewelry will no longer be a prohibited accessory for competitors during events. NFHS Director of Sports and Liaison to the Track and Field Rules Committee Becky Oates stated in a press release that the rule was “unnecessary.”

“Elimination of the rule allows officials to focus on meet administration directly related to actual competition," Oates said. "Coaches continue to have the obligation to see that competitors are properly equipped.”

Wilsonville track and field coach David Barkley weighed in on the rule change, saying competitors do not gain an advantage from jewelry.

“When you compete you shouldn’t be running a race looking like Mr. T," he said. "No one is going to get an advantage by having it on. The only penalty is disqualification and that is an extremely steep penalty. So if a kid has on a necklace, it is probably a bit much to disqualify them after running 5,000 meters.”

At the same time, Barkley said he has never seen a kid disqualified for jewelry. Competent referrers would tell competitors to take off jewelry before the event anyway, he added.

In a more technical change, time limits pertaining to throwers and jumpers were altered. In the past, throwers and jumpers had to carry a trial to completion in one minute or less. Now, they must only initiate a trial within one minute. Barkley said almost all athletes initiate their trial within 15 to 20 seconds.

Also, in field events, when an implement breaks during a competition due to circumstances beyond the competitor’s control, the competitor will now be granted an additional trial.

The new rule also states: “If the implement breaks upon completion of the trial, a replacement attempt shall not be awarded and the results of the trial shall be recorded, provided it was made in accordance with the rules.”

In a tweak pertaining to discus throwers, the foul given to competitors who are out of control when leaving the back half of the circle was eliminated. Barkley believes the rule will prove inconsequential.

“It would be really strange for them after their release to then blaze through the back of the ring and get out of control,” he said.

Also, a rule in javelin, discuss and shot put requiring the judge to call “mark” was nixed.

The NFHS Track and Field Rules Committee recommended all rule changes during meetings between June 16 and 18.

NFHS also released statistics illustrating track and field’s nationwide popularity. According to an Athletic Participation Survey, track is the second most popular sport in the United States for boys and the most popular sport for girls. The survey counted 580,672 male participants and 472,939 female participants.

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