MANUALS: FOOTBALL

REGULAR SEASON

2021 Football

Manuals provide the most up to date policies, rules, and regulations for Iowa High School Athletic Association sports in the regular season and postseason. Member school athletic directors and head coaches seeking more information or clarifications on the contents of this manual should contact the IHSAA sport administrator for this sport: Todd Tharp, ttharp@iahsaa.org . All other inquiries should be directed through athletic directors or coaches at member schools or host schools. 

All football playing schools will receive printed edition of the 2021 NFHS Rules Book.

All coaches, grades 7-12 will be required to view the NFHS course, “Concussion in Sports-”, prior to the first legal practice date.

​For more information on concussions or sport safety, please visit the Health & Safety resource page. 

To search this manual, click a topic header from the Index above or select Find (Ctrl + F) from your keyboard. 

Classifications

School enrollment numbers from each year inform the following school year’s classifications for IHSAA sanctioned sports. For football only, these numbers are used for two-year cycles. Enrollment numbers are provided by the Basic Educational Data Survey (BEDS) from the Iowa Department of Education. Whole grade and cooperative sharing agreements listed as available. To view other sports or overall BEDS numbers, view the Classifications page.

5A: Largest 36 schools.

4A: Next largest 36 schools.

3A: Next largest 36 schools.

2A: Next largest 48 schools.

1A: Next largest 48 schools.

A: Remaining 11-player schools (no minimum enrollment requirement for 11-player)

8P: Schools with enrollments under 120, schools previously under 120 and granted 8-player exemption from previous cycle.

 

Any school interested in playing up in classification must contact the IHSAA by Dec. 1 of the year prior to redistricting. For the next cycle, this date would be Dec. 1, 2022.

Enrollment Requirements

The cap to participate in Eight-Player football per the BEDS enrollment listing is 120 or less. If the enrollment is larger than 120, schools must play 11-player football.

The following exception was recommended by the Football Playoff Committee and approved by the Board of Control:

  • Exception: An 8-player football school whose current enrollment is 120 or less, and whose enrollment increases above 120 following the 2019 season, will be allowed 8-player football status for the 2020, 2021 and 2022 football seasons.

 

Playoff Policy

The following exception was approved by the IHSAA Board of Control in June 2010.

A football team would be allowed to compete in postseason play in the class they have been assigned if its BEDs enrollment increases during the two-year reclassification cycle because of whole grade sharing or reorganization.

2021 Rule Updates

IHSAA Postseason Football

There will be no required football for the 2021 postseason. Each school will be permitted to use their own football during the post season. Schools will be required to provide appropriate-aged ball boys during the postseason.

2021 NFHS Football Rule Change

Action in the Free-Blocking Zone [2-17-2c (NEW), 2-17-4] Blocking below the waist now requires the block to begin immediately following the snap.

2021 Editorial Changes

1-5-1b(3); 2-10-1; 2-10-2; 3-5-1; 9-4-4 PENALTY, NINE-, EIGHT- AND SIX-PLAYER RULES DIFFERENCES

2021 POINTS OF EMPHASIS
1. Sportsmanship
2. Intentional Grounding
3. Ineligible Downfield and Line of Scrimmage Formation

Iowa High School Football Experiment (7-5-2 Exception)

For the 2021 football season, the IHSAA will be experimenting with rule 7-5-2, providing the opportunity for the passer to throw the ball away as long as he is outside the free blocking zone at the time the ball is thrown and the ball must reach the line of scrimmage while in the air.

Schedule Information

Future Practice & Game Dates

School Year First Practice: Date/NFHS Week First Contest: Date/NFHS Week
2021-22 Aug. 9 / Week 6 Aug. 26 / Week 8
2022-23 Aug. 8 / Week 6 Aug. 25 / Week 8
2023-24 Aug. 7 / Week 6 Aug. 24 / Week 8
2024-25 Aug. 12 / Week 6 Aug. 29 / Week 8
2025-26 Aug. 11 / Week 6 Aug. 28 / Week 8

 

Preseason to Regular Season

Teams are permitted to use practice facilities other than their own with local school administration approval. The UNI-Dome is not to be used for any regular season practices except those schools that use it as a home facility.

1. Football teams are allowed four (4) hours of coach-athlete contact per day, in which no more than three (3) hours may consist of physical activity per day. Two-a-day practices are now prohibited. Warm-up, stretching, speed and agility rules, strength training, and cool down are all considered part of a practice. Football teams have the option of separating the three hours of physical activity with a brief, supervised period of education, re-energizing, or rehydrating. Optional weight training activities that are available to all students are not considered part of the practice.

2. The first two days of practice will consist of no person to person contact work of any kind. However, during the first two days of practice, it is permitted to use blocking dummies, handshields, blocking sleds, and tackling rings to be used for Helmets and mouth pieces may be worn during the first two days of practice. The IHSAA recommends that during these two days of preconditioning, helmets only be worn when players are doing football drills. It is recommended that during calisthenics, stretching, agilities, or any other time the players are not doing drill work that the helmets be removed. This policy is made for the safety of the players.

3. During days three, four and five of practice, helmets, mouth pieces, and shoulder pads are allowed. Contact above the waist is permitted, but players should not be brought to the ground. Contact with sleds, dummies, shields, and pads are allowed during days three, four, and

4. Beginning on day six, full person-to-person contact is allowed.

5. Beginning with practice on Monday, August 23rd each individual player is limited to 30 minutes of contact per day using the USA Football definitions of levels of contact.  In addition, each player is limited to 90 minutes of contact per week using the USA Football definitions of levels of contact.

Practice Definitions: 

  • Control: Drill is run at assigned speed through the moment of contact; no pre-determined “winner.”  Contact remains above the waist, players stay on their feet and a quick whistle ends the drill.
  • Control to Ground: Drill is run in game-like conditions and is the only time that players are taken to the ground.

 

6. No practice is allowed on Sunday, August 15 and August 22 for Week 1 playing schools.

7. The IHSAA recommends allowing schools to play varsity contests with schools bordering Iowa along with playing schools in the state of Kansas.

 

Coach-Athlete Contact (“Camps & Clinics”)

36.15(6) Summer camps and clinics and coaching contacts out of season.

(a) School personnel, whether employed or volunteers of a member or associate-member school shall not coach that school’s student athletes during the school year in the sport for which the school personnel are currently under contract or are volunteers, outside the period from the official first day of practice through the finals of tournament play, nor shall volunteer or compensated coaching personnel require students to participate in any activities outside the season of that coach’s sport as a condition of participation in the coach’s sport during the season.

(b) A summer team or individual camp or clinic held at a member or associate-member school facility shall not conflict with sports in season. Summertime coaching activities shall not conflict with sports in season.

(d) Penalty. A school whose volunteer or compensated coaching personnel violate this rule is ineligible to participate in a governing organization-sponsored event in that sport for one year with the violator(s) coaching.

Football Policy: The Board of Control has adopted the following policy as it relates to football camps/football clinics:

  1. Camps/clinics conducted by school personnel, whether employed or volunteers, must be non contact with no player wearing full protective equipment. (Helmets only are permitted and are to be rented to the student-athletes on a per use
  2. Practice equipment such as dummies, sleds, ropes, etc., will be allowed for use during football camps/clinics.

 

Preseason Schedule for Week 1

First Legal Day of Practice

  • No Contact
  • Helmets and mouth guards are permitted
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Second Legal Day of Practice

  • No Contact
  • Helmets and mouth guards are permitted
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Third Legal Day of Practice

  • Contact above the waist is permitted (form tackling)
  • Helmets, mouth guards and shoulder pads are permitted
  • Contact with blocking sleds and tackling dummies may begin
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Fourth Legal Day of Practice

  • Contact above the waist is permitted (form tackling)
  • Helmets, mouth guards and shoulder pads are permitted
  • Contact with blocking sleds and tackling dummies may begin
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Fifth Legal Day of Practice

  • Contact above the waist is permitted (form tackling)
  • Helmets, mouth guards and shoulder pads are permitted
  • Contact with blocking sleds and tackling dummies may begin
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Sixth Legal Day of Practice

  • Full person-to-person contact may begin
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Sunday (Day 7)

  • No practice allowed

Seventh Legal Day of Practice

  • Full person-to-person contact is allowed
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Eighth Legal Day of Practice

  • Full person-to-person contact is allowed
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Ninth Legal Day of Practice

  • Full person-to-person contact is allowed
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Tenth Legal Day of Practice

  • Full person-to-person contact is allowed
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Eleventh Legal Day of Practice

  • Scrimmage against another school is permissible on this date.
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Twelfth Legal Day of Practice

  • Full person-to-person contact is allowed
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Sunday (Day 14)

  • No practice allowed

Thirteenth Legal Day of Practice

  • Full person-to-person contact is allowed
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Fourteenth Legal Day of Practice

  • Full person-to-person contact is allowed
  • One practice, four hours of total coach/athlete contact allowed; maximum of three hours of physical activity is allowed

Fifteenth Legal Day of Practice

  • First day schools are allowed to lift weights/walk-through in the morning and then have one practice, maximum of three hours after school.
  • Full person-to-person contact is allowed
  •  

First Legal Playing Date

  • Thursday, August 26

 

 

Contest Information

Cancellation vs. Forfeiture of Football Season

The season starts with the first game. If a team does not play a game, it does not have a season and this is considered a cancellation, not a forfeiture, Per Board of Control Policy January 2014, the continuation of the season for a team that forfeits a regular season game shall be determined by the IHSAA administrative staff and the school’s administration.
The Board of Control of the IHSAA adopted the following policy March 1, 2003: If a team forfeits a game and it is the forfeiting team’s opponent’s home game, the forfeiting team will play at the opponent’s site the following year if it is during a two-year scheduling time period.

NOTE: In simple terms, the canceling team gives their opponent a game back if it was the opponent’s home game the year they forfeited.

Per Board of Control policy January 2017, any school that forfeits a district football contest will be ineligible for the post season.

 

Game Protests Not Upheld

The Board of Control will not uphold any protest by a member school arising from any interscholastic contest involving the question of judgment by any of the contest officials. This includes appeals regarding the ejection of any student- athletes, targeting, and helmet-to-helmet contact.

 

Regulations Pertaining To Scrimmages

In football, a school may have one scrimmage, and this scrimmage may not take place until the school has had the opportunity for 10 days of practice or thereafter. Up to four teams are allowed at one facility for a scrimmage, however, a school may only scrimmage one team.  Please keep in mind that a bona fide scrimmage is where, no admission charged, no scores kept, no public address is used after each play and no school time may be used for travel or participation in such a scrimmage.

 

Individual Football Game Limitations-Season

A player may not participate in more than 14 football games in any one season. Those schools that are granted permission to play a 10th varsity game to help another school have a full schedule are still limited to 14 football games for all their players. The participation in the football playoffs is permitted in addition to the 14 games.

 

Individual Football Game Limitations-Daily

A player may dress for no more than two games per day as the maximum, and they may not play in any part of more than five quarters in the two games. A reminder that a player may only participate in 8 quarters per week. A week is defined as Sunday through Saturday. This would count as one game toward the player’s game limitation. A player’s participation in one or more quarters of a game constitutes a game with the following two exceptions. One play equals one quarter.
Exception One: Once a game has reached a 35-point differential, a substitute who enters the game for the first time at that point is not required to count that game toward the 14-game limitation rule, if the game differential falls below 35 points, it still does not count toward the 14-game limitation rule; however, participation in this game does count toward the five-quarter limitation rule in which a player may not play in any part of more than five quarters in one day or a total of 8 quarters per week.

Exception Two: A player who participates in only free kick downs and scrimmage kick downs during the game is not charged with game participation as it relates to the 14-game player limitation rule; however, participation in free kicks and scrimmage kicks does count toward the five-quarter limitation rule in which a player may not play in any part of more than five quarters in one day or a total of 8 quarters per week.

Hypothetical situation: Last Friday night Team A played Team C in a varsity only game on Friday night. Todd Tharp held the ball for the place kicker in all 4 quarters of that game with Team C. Todd Tharp is not charged with a game for playing only on free kick downs and scrimmage downs, according to exception two.

Now, this week in the Friday night sophomore curtain-raiser game against Team B, Todd Tharp will be playing quarterback all 4 quarters against Team B. The question: Can Todd Tharp be the place-kick holder in the varsity game to be played afterwards?

The answer: Yes, but Todd Tharp can play in one quarter and one quarter only of the varsity contest. Playing in more than one quarter regardless of the score of the contest or playing on specialty teams only will result in Todd Tharp being an ineligible athlete, due to playing in more than 5 quarters in a day and the contest in which he played as an ineligible athlete being forfeited.

If Todd Tharp plays in two quarters of the sophomore game, he is allowed to play in three quarters of the varsity game. Yes, and it counts as one game out of the 14 he is allowed. Just a reminder, if you have a curtain raiser game and a player plays in all 4 quarters of that game, he can play in one quarter and one quarter only of the varsity contest.

Todd Tharp plays in all 4 quarters of the sophomore game prior to the varsity game for Team A. After half-time of the varsity game, Team A is ahead by 35 points and the continuous clock is in affect. Can Todd Tharp play in the varsity contest?

The answer: Yes, Todd Tharp can play in either the third quarter or the fourth quarter,but cannot play in both quarters as that would put him over the 5 quarter daily limitation.

Team Football Game Limitations- Season

A team is permitted to play a maximum of seven regular season games, unless approval is given by the Board of Control for an additional game to help a school with a scheduling conflict. All varsity regular season football games must be played by the seventh Friday of the football season (calendar week #14).

Suspended Games

Suspended game provisions apply to games in progress and postponed. The season ends for a playoff qualifying team when they are defeated in the postseason. If a regular season game that has been suspended cannot be completed by the seventh Friday of the football season, that game will be considered final at the point of suspension.

No football game may be scheduled after the start of the football season without the approval of the Board of Control. Any school desiring to schedule an additional game must write to the IHSAA Office and ask for permission.

No junior varsity, sophomore, or freshman games may be played after the last varsity playing date without the approval of the Iowa High School Athletic Association.

 

35 Point Differential Rule

The 35-point differential rule is in effect for all games played in Iowa, grades 7-12, eight-player or 11-player. If there is a 35-point differential anytime during the contest, the game will be continued with a running clock. Beginning with the ensuing kick-off when the 35-point differential becomes effective, the following changes, and only these changes, will be made regarding rules determining when the the clock will and will not be stopped.

The clock will run continuously except for the following situations when it will be stopped:

  1. Anytime a time-out is charged to a team;
  2. After a score;
  3. Intermission between first and second quarter;
  4. Intermission between third and fourth quarter;
  5. Administration of a penalty
  6. Extended injury time-out;
  7. Anytime officials determine it is necessary for safety reasons.

Anytime the score differential gets below 35 points, regular timing procedures will be used.

 

Sub-Varsity Overtime Procedures

In junior varsity, sophomore, and freshman games, a maximum of one overtime period will be allowed. After each team has had the opportunity to play offense and defense, the game will end, regardless of the score.

 

Eight-Player Field Dimension Requirements

All eight-player games shall be played on the NFHS requirements of the dimensions of an eight-player field, which is 80 yards long and 40 yards wide. Those schools that share a facility with an 11-player school will need to make provisions to play on the properly marked field.

 

Football Field Markings/Collegiate Field Use

A 4-inch-wide broken restraining line shall be placed around the outside of the field, at least 2 yards from the sidelines and end lines, as an extension of the line limiting the team box area. The line shall be 12 inches in length and occur every 24 inches.

If the field of play has a logo in the center or at any other part of the field of play, that logo should not obstruct the visibility of the required marks every five yards. A solid or shadow-bordered 4-inch-wide line is permissible. A shadow line is a line that designates the required 4-inch width by use of a border or outline lines, at least ¼-inch wide which shall lie within the 4-inch width. Shadow lines that are the natural color of the field of play are permissible. The area within these lines need not be one color, but the continuous 4-inch-wide outline must be clearly visible to the game officials.

It is permissible to use college fields with hash marks marked at the distance specified by their respective codes along with goal post width specified by their respective codes.

Advertising and/or commercial markings may be placed on the field of play by home management as long as they do not obstruct the yard lines, hash marks or nine-yard marks (seven-yard marks for nine-, eight-, and six player).

 

Protocols Regarding Marching Bands Playing During The Game

The pep/marching band may play during pre-game, half-time, quarter breaks, and time-outs. Once the ball has been marked ready for play by the referee (white hat) and the 25 second clock has begun, there is to be no music played by the pep/marching band, nor any artificial noise over the public address system.

Immediately after a down has finished and before the ready for play has been signaled for the next play, the band may play during that very quick interval. Pep/marching bands that violate this protocol may subject their team to penalties which could include 5 yard delay of game penalties, all the way to 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalties.

 

Referee Microphone and 25/40 Second Play Clocks

Microphones on referees and 25-second clocks are both permitted. IHSAA permission is not needed, nor is mutual consent required. Use of a referee microphone and a 25-second clock is a host school decision. The use of electric clocks, including the 25-second clock, is considered official. The line/back judges will coordinate with the timers. The Referee shall announce the offender’s number when using a microphone. All football field markings should be in compliance with NFHS rules. It is permissible to play on a field marked for collegiate games.

Visible 25/40-second play clocks are not mandatory for high school football.

Use of 25/40-second clocks is a home team management decision. Following are general guidelines for the usage of these clocks.

  • Placement: A visible 25/40-second play clock should be placed in EACH end zone, a safe distance off the end line and at a height so that players and officials may view them.
  • Operator: The visible play clock operator shall meet with the game official (BJ) prior to the game. The operator shall start the play clock on the Referee’s signal and reset the clock to 25/40 on the snap of the ball or when told to by the Referee’s signal (upward hand push). The operator shall keep the play clock at zero (0) if it runs out prior to the snap. If the game clock is running with less than 25 seconds in a quarter, the 25/40-second play clocks shall be turned off or not started. The 2/405-second play clocks shall operate by rule for PAT, kick-off and over-time
  • Officials: If a school has the 25/40-second play clock, use them. The Referee may correct a timing error on the 25/40-second play clock and a new 25/40-second timing started. If any timing error occurs, the game clock and 25/40-second play clocks shall be reset and re-started by rule. If the officials cannot determine the game clock elapsed time, a new 25/40-second play clock shall be started and the game clock shall start on the snap. If one of the play clocks becomes inoperative, BOTH will be turned off with both coaches notified. The Back Judge will then time the 25/40 seconds. The Back Judge remains the primary official for timing/operation/enforcement of the play clock.

 

Event* Play Clock Starts at Game Clock Starts at Covering Officials’ Signal Referee’s Signal
Dead Ball Inbounds 40 Running Hand above Head None
Dead Ball Out of Bound 40 Snap Waves hands above head None
Incomplete Pass 40 Snap Waves hands in front of body None
Team A awarded 1st Down 40 Signal of 1st Down Waves hands above head Wind the clock
Double change of Possession-Team A snaps 40 Ready for Play Hand above head Wind the clock

 

Event* Play Clock Starts at Game Clock Starts at Covering Officials’ Signal Referee’s Signal
Penalty Administration 25 Ready for Play Waves hands above head Wind the clock
Charged Team Timeout 25 Snap Waves hands above head Ready for Play
Injury/Helmet Off Defensive Player 40 Ready for Play Waves hands above head Wind the clock
Measurement 25 Ready for Play Waves hands above head Wind the clock
Change of Possession- Team B Snaps the ball 25 Snap Waves hands above head Ready for Play
Touchdown 25 N/A Touchdown Ready for Play
Try, Field Goal, Safety 25 Varies** Varies** Ready for Play
Start of Each Period 25 Snap N/A Wind the clock
Legal Kick 25 Snap Waves hands above head Ready for Play
Start of Overtime 25 N/A N/A Ready for Play
Other Administrative Stoppages *** 25 Ready Waves hands above head Wind the clock

 

*If the event does not occur in conjunction with any other event that stops the clock

**The game clock will start on the free kick by rule.

***Includes inadvertent whistle and period extension.

 

 

 

Video Information

HUDL Video Exchange

Based on a recommendation from the football advisory committee, the IHSAA has created one pool for HUDL video exchange.  All IHSAA football playing schools (5A, 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, A, 8 Player) are now part of a single pool.  Any school in any class is now able to view video from any of the IHSAA football playing schools throughout the football season.  Previous rules regarding video exchange will continue.  Coaches are expected to enter their Friday game by 12 PM the following Saturday, or 12 PM the following Sunday if playing on Saturday.  Rationale for this change focused on inconsistencies with non-district contests that involved different classifications and the ability for schools to view and educate themselves regarding schemes throughout the state.

Videotaping of  Opponents

Videotaping or filming is permissible in scouting your opponent during both scrimmages and regular/post season contests. It is a common courtesy that the host school shall be notified. Space for taping or filming for scouting is not required of the host school. Hand-held cameras are recommended.  Patrons are allowed to videotape contests with paid admission to a contest.  Tripods are not recommended to be used from spectator seating.

Video Guidelines for Regular Season Exchange

The Iowa Football Coaches Association feels that the exchange of game tapes is a vital part of our football program.  Each year both the Iowa Football Coaches Association and the Iowa High School Athletic Association receive concerns regarding the quality and integrity of game tapes.  The Iowa Football Coaches Association based, on a recommendation from the Football Playoff Advisory Committee has created the following guidelines to help with the consistency of how games are recorded and exchanged. Any issues or concerns regarding regular season film exchange need to be addressed with the Iowa Football Coaches Association.  The Iowa Football Coaches Association understands and appreciates that often times volunteers and students are those that have the responsibility to videotape.  Hopefully, these general guidelines will allow practice and improve consistency in the game exchange process.

General Points:

  1. Close up shots are not often necessary. Zoom in on the players as the play ends to see how both teams are moving, blocking, and tackling.
  2. Do not zoom out too much. The idea is to see the players, not empty grass. There is no need to see things off the football field.
  3. Focus on the action. When the play starts, try to have all of the players on the screen.  You should have the entire offensive backfield on one side and the entire defensive backfield on the other side.
  4. Hold the camera as steady as possible and mute the sound if at all possible. Be sure that you are on “Record” or “Pause”.  Check this before each play.
  5. Remember, more is better. It is better to stop later than too soon.  The coaches can edit time, but cannot regain a play.

Special Teams: Kickoff, Punt, Field Goal & Point after Touchdown

  1. Take a wide angle shot of the teams as they line up. Keep all the players in the picture before the kick.
  2. After the kick, focus on the return team. Do not track the ball in the air.  Simply pan back to the returner and capture the blockers and coverage as they come to him.
  3. Keep the returner on one side of the screen and slowly zoom in as the players converge on the returner.

Scrimmage Plays:

  1. Start to record as the offensive team breaks the huddle. Show the defensive front seven and the offensive line.  Then zoom back to show the formation and any motion.
  2. Running Plays- Follow the runner to include the blockers and defenders in the area as you close in on the action.
  3. Passing Plays- Zoom out to include all players on the screen. The quarterback should be on one side of the screen with defenders and pass patterns on the other side of the screen. Once the ball is thrown, treat like a kick.  Do not film the ball in the air, but instead follow the action on the field.
  4. After the play ends, zoom in so the runner/receiver, blockers and tacklers can be seen as they unpile.
  5. Film referee’s preliminary signal after each penalty.
  6. Film the scoreboard after each score and at the start of each quarter.

Checklist:

  1. Extra batteries that are charged
  2. Extension cord and battery adapter (in case the battery fails)
  3. Tripod- Reminder that by IHSAA policy, tripods are not allowed in the bleachers during contests to video tape contests.

Weather Information

Lightning Safety

The safety of the players and spectators is always more important than the game! Communication between game management, officials & coaches is essential for the safety of everyone.

Lightning only takes an instant to strike. You are in danger from lightning if you can hear thunder.

All thunderstorms produce lightning and are dangerous. Lightning often strikes as far as 10 miles away from rainfall. Don’t wait until the last minute to seek shelter.

If thunder is heard, or cloud-to-ground lightning is seen, immediately suspend the event and instruct everyone to take shelter in a safe structure.

Have a lightning safety plan in place. Know where teams and spectators will go for safety and know how much time it will take them to get to safety. A “safe structure” is a completely enclosed building that is normally occupied or frequently used by people. The building should have plumbing and electrical wiring to help ground it from lightning. If there is no such structure available, an enclosed vehicle with a metal roof and sides is a reasonable second choice.

When a contest is suspended due to lightning, wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder before leaving safe shelter and resuming activity.

Lightning detectors are a great tool to draw one’s attention to the fact that lightning is in the vicinity. Remember, even with lightning detectors, the weather should be monitored closely for lightning or thunder.

 

Precautions To Take In Hazardous Weather

Rule 3, Section 1, Article 5 of the National Federation Football Rule book states, “WHEN WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE CONSTRUED TO BE HAZARDOUS TO LIFE OR LIMB OF THE PARTICIPANTS, THE CREW OF OFFICIALS IS AUTHORIZED TO DELAY OR SUSPEND THE GAME.” Rule 1, Section 1, Article 7 states, “The game officials shall assume authority for the contest, including penalizing unsportsmanlike acts, 30 minutes prior to the scheduled game time, or as soon thereafter as they are able to be present.” Both of these rules dictate the authority of the officials, but school administrators assume the responsibility for decisions made prior to the time the officials’ authority begins.

 

Hazardous Weather Guidelines

The primary concern when signs of hazardous weather are present is the safety of participants and spectators. Have a safety plan for any type of hazardous weather that may occur. Practice and follow the plan. Know where people will go for safety and know how much time it will take for them to get there. Have specific guidelines for suspending the event so everyone has time to reach a place of safety before the threat becomes significant.

 

Suspension Or Postponement Of Contests

I. Prior to the contest officials’ assuming authority.
A. The home school’s management shall determine whether a contest should be suspended or postponed due to severe weather.
1. In making the decision whether or not to suspend or postpone a contest, the host management should first take into consideration the safety of the participants and spectators.
2. Playing surface conditions should be considered and what continued use may do to the surface.
3. If the decision is made by the host management to postpone the contest, administrators from both schools should mutually agree if, and when, to reschedule.

II. Once the contest officials’ authority begins.
A. Refer to NFHS playing rules, or IHSAA post-season rules, for the exact rules in each sport regarding contest officials authority to suspend the contest.
III. Postponing the contest.
A. Wait a sufficient amount of time to see if the severe weather will subside.
B. Home management and/or contest officials shall decide whether to postpone or resume the contest.
C. Playing surface conditions should be considered when making this decision.
IV. If the contest resumes.
A. Adequate time should be given for contestants to warm up prior to continuing play.

V. If the contest cannot be resumed after a severe weather delay.
A. Administrators from both schools need to come to an agreement. The contest may be considered complete with the existing score becoming the final score, or the contest may be postponed and continued from the point of interruption, at a time mutually agreed to by both schools.
B. If a regular season game that has been suspended cannot be completed by the ninth Friday of the football season, that game will be considered final at the point of suspension. All necessary points will be awarded at that time.

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