Beyond Fairness

April 11, 2017

One of the lessons I learned decades ago when I was employed at the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is that sometimes the playing rules are not fair.

The NFHS is the publisher of playing rules for most high school sports, and its rule books govern competition for most of the contests for most of the high schools in the U.S.

But the NFHS doesn’t publish the most fair rules. On purpose.

The rules for the high school level attempt to do much more than promote competitive equity, or a balance between offense and defense; they also attempt – without compromising participant health and safety – to simplify the administration of the game.

Unlike Major League Baseball, where umpires officiate full-time, and professional basketball, football and ice hockey where they officiate nearly full-time, the officials at the high school level are part-timers. They have other jobs. This is their avocation, not their vocation.

So the NFHS develops and publishes rules that minimize exceptions to the rules. In football, for example, there are fewer variables for determining the spot where penalties are enforced.

At the high school level, the rule makers intend that the rules be – for players, coaches and officials alike – quicker to learn, simpler to remember, and easier to apply during the heat of contests.

Be the Referee: Lacrosse Foul in Critical Scoring Area

By Paige Winne
MHSAA Marketing & Social Media Coordinator

May 21, 2024

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Lacrosse Foul in Critical Scoring Area - Listen

We are on the lacrosse field today when a foul is called on the defense inside the critical scoring area with 12 seconds remaining in the third quarter. As the free position is being set up, the game clock expires. What’s the call?

  • Disregard the clock and continue administering the free position and play will commence with a whistle?
  • Reset the game clock to 12 seconds and the free position will commence with a whistle?
  • The free position shall not be administered, and the third quarter is over?

If you said “do not administer the free position,” you are correct. The clock stops for fouls in the CSA in the last two minutes of the second and fourth quarters only – unless there is a 10-goal differential. If time runs out prior to the complete administration of a free position, then it shall not be administered.

Previous Editions

May 14: Avoiding the Tag - Listen
May 7: Baseball Pitch Count - Listen
April 30: Boys Lacrosse Helmets - Listen
April 23: Softball Interference - Listen
April 16: Soccer Red Card - Listen
April 9: Batted Baseball Hits Runner - Listen
March 12: Basketball Replay - Listen
March 5: Hockey Officials - Listen
Feb. 27: Less Than 5 - Listen
Feb. 20: Air Ball - Listen
Feb. 13: Hockey Penalties - Listen
Jan. 30: Wrestling Tiebreakers - Listen
Jan. 23: Wrestling Technology - Listen
Jan. 9: 3 Seconds - Listen
Dec. 19: Unsuspecting Hockey Hits - Listen
Dec. 12: No More One-And-Ones - Listen
Nov. 21: Football Finals Replay - Listen
Nov. 14: Volleyball Unplayable Areas - Listen
Nov. 7: Pass/Kick Off Crossbar - Listen
Oct. 31: Cross Country Interference - Listen
Oct. 24: Soccer Overtime - Listen
Oct. 17: Tennis Spin - Listen
Oct. 10: Blocked Kick - Listen
Oct. 3: Volleyball Double & Lift - Listen
Sept. 26: Registration Process - Listen
Sept. 20: Animal Interference - Listen
Sept. 13: Feet Rule on Soccer Throw-In - Listen
Sept. 6: Volleyball Jewelry - Listen
Aug. 30: Football Rules Similarities - Listen
Aug. 23: Football Rules Differences - Listen