By Dennis Morris
The following bulletin, issued by Jerry Snodgrass, OHSAA Assistant Commissioner-Basketball Sport Administrator, was sent to all OHSAA basketball officials on January 24, 2014.
Beginning late December, there has been a significant increase in the number of student-athletes requesting or physicians requiring patients to wear head protection to protect against concussions. The NFHS Playing rules do not specifically address items worn on the head in the “Equipment Rule” (Rule 3 of the 2013-14 Basketball Rules). Since some equipment required by physicians cannot be approved for play (anything that is ‘hard and unyielding), schools have always been required to obtain Special Permission from the OHSAA prior to being permitted to wear anything on the head. This has worked well for several years to prevent any unapproved equipment from being worn. With the increase in late December with requests, two types of equipment have been requested most often; a ‘headband’ that is sold under several brand names and the “Full 90” that is often worn in soccer. Since neither are ‘hard or unyielding’ both of these pieces of equipment are being approved for wear without the need for OHSAA approval. Both meet the requirements outlined in Rule 3 of the 2013-14 Basketball Rules and therefore there is no need to secure OHSAA approval. Had the observed increase for requests occurred prior to mandatory rules meetings for coaches and officials, this approval would have been done prior to the season. Unfortunately, it was not and this is a change in how we have dealt with these in the past. This is the best method to meet the growing request to approve 2 items that would be legal per Rule 3 anyhow.
Neither of the above items would be required to meet the ‘color requirements’ outlined in Article 4 of Rule 3-5.
Anything beyond the “Full 90” and a headband made specifically of soft material for concussions would still require OHSAA approval.
Many schools will have an approval form already issued and a ‘blanket approval’ has been placed on the OHSAA’s website in the event an official overlooks this correspondence. As always, that approval should be honored.
This information is also being sent has been sent to all school Athletic Directors and basketball coaches. Since there are over 4,500 licensed basketball officials in the state of Ohio, there remains a chance that at this point in the season it may be overlooked by an official. To prevent this and still permit a player to participate, a ‘generic’ approval has been placed on our website for any school to download indicating the approval for the above to equipment items.
This approval should not be perceived as any endorsement for either product. The NFHS playing rules do not permit any object that is ‘hard or unyielding’ in construction and this statement of approval is merely indicating that neither product contains hard or unyielding materials and is a more efficient way of permitting what has been permitted all along.
I apologize for the change in procedure that has worked well for years, but I feel this is the most efficient way to deal with an unforeseen increase in a piece of equipment that would meet rule requirements.