Guidance for Officials, Rules Organization Focal Points of 2023 Athletics/Cross Country Rule Revisions

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (July 14, 2022) – Rules ensuring consistency and guidance for meeting with umpires were among the focal points discussed in eight rule changes for the 2023 high school track and cross country seasons.

Two of the most notable changes were to Rule 3-4-3, setting specific casebook guidelines, and the introduction of Rule 9, which specifically addresses rules for indoor athletics. Six other rule changes were recommended by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Athletics and Cross Country Rules Committee June 13-15 at its annual meeting in Indianapolis. All recommended rule changes have been approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

“Assisting competition umpires in the administration of track and field and cross country competitions has been a point of attention, where appropriate, by the NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee during its meeting in June,” said Julie Cochran, director of athletics and liaison for the NFHS. to the Athletics and Cross Country Rules Committee. “While the rules are in order, the committee felt we had the opportunity to provide competition referees with more specific and organized rules for event day administration.”

Changes made by the Rules Committee to Rule 3-4-3 set out specific guidelines to the casebook to provide consistency and guidance for meeting with referees when deciding on replays. New to the rule are scenarios to help umpires determine when a replay is necessary and the stipulations that must apply for a replay to be considered.

The change to Rule 3-4-3 affects Rules 5-9-2 and 5-9-3, which deal with instances in which interference occurs. The most notable impact was the 5-9-2 rule, which now states that in the event of interference during a preliminary round, and when a lane is not available to the competitor or team offended relay, the referee of the match can add an inning in this round or in the next round of innings.

Due to recent changes to outdoor athletics rules, the NFHS Athletics and Cross Country Rules Committee adopted Rule 9 to deal exclusively with indoor athletics. With the continued emergence of indoor track across the country, which includes sanctions in 21 states, more than 150,000 participants and 17 state championships, the committee determined that a separate rule was in order.

“The NFHS Athletics and Cross Country Rules Committee continues to emphasize the health and safety of student-athletes and the minimization of risk in our review of the rules,” said Cody Inglis, Chairman. of the NFHS Athletics and Cross Country Rules Committee and Deputy Director of the Michigan High Schools Athletic Association. “This focus can be seen in the committee’s work for the 2023 rulebook. Additionally, the committee has worked to make the book easier to use for officials, coaches and others over the past few years by separating the rules in their own sections. This year, the Indoor Athletics Rule has been placed in its own section, making it easier for the user to access the Indoor Athletics Rules as states continue to add this version of the sport.

The growing popularity of mixed relays has resulted in the adoption of the 7-2-2g rule as a new element among special events. The committee noted that mixed relays are becoming more common at high school meets. By adding mixed relays to the special events section of the 7-2-2 rule, it allows the committee to offer guidance to member state associations on how to run these events effectively.

Other rule changes included increasing relay entries from six to eight individuals. Only people who actually race will be considered official participants. Cochran noted that providing two additional names provides another opportunity for student-athletes to get involved not only in regular and post-season competitions, but also in high school sports and activities.

A complete list of changes to the Athletics and Cross Country rules will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the homepage and select “Athletics/Cross Country”.

According to the most recent NFHS High School Sports Participation Survey, outdoor track and field is the second most popular sport for boys and the #1 sport for girls with 605,354 and 488,267 participants respectively. Cross country ranks sixth for boys and girls with 269,295 and 219,345 participants respectively. Additionally, there are an additional 150,253 combined participants in indoor track and field.


Aubrey L. Morgan