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 Track and Field Rule Changes for 2008-09 Announced

July 9, 2008 - Beginning next track and field season, pole vaulters once again will be charged with a foul if their feet leave the ground in an attempt to clear the crossbar but are unsuccessful. However, an exception was adopted to permit the vaulter to leave the ground and return when stopping an approach.

Rule 7-5-29 was one of seven rules revised by National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee at its annual meeting June 8-10 in Indianapolis. The changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

In a revision last year, vaulters were allowed to leave the ground and not have a foul charged to them provided they did not break the plane of the crossbar. This rule was revised to clarify the original intent of the committee.

The exception added to the rule provides it is not considered a foul if the competitor aborts the approach and, in stopping, plants the pole and momentum causes his/her feet to leave the ground.

“The change in 7-5-29 last year by the committee was not intended to allow a vaulter to abort a vault but rather to have the opportunity to stop and abort the approach,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Track and Field Rules Committee. “This change clearly reflects the original intent of the committee to abort only the approach and have the opportunity to restart the approach.”

Specifications for starter’s pistols were addressed as Rule 3-9-2 was revised to only allow closed-barreled pistols.

“It is not appropriate to use a live weapon in an educational event,” Oakes said, “and in most cases, state law prohibits firearms on school grounds and at school events.”

Revisions to Rules 6-4-9c and 6-5-9c will allow competitors in throwing events to enter and exit the throwing circle without a foul providing it occurs within the time allowed for the trial and before the competitor starts his/her attempt beginning with the pause.

The change will allow competitors, for example, to leave the circle to wipe off their hands and re-enter the circle without a penalty.

A note was added to Rule 7-5-3 clarifying that visible etchings appearing on poles shall not meet the requirement of the manufacturer’s pole rating appearing on the pole in a contrasting color.

Rules 7-4-11 and 7-5-18 were revised to delete the option for the event judge to place a cloth marker on the crossbar for sighting purposes during the pole vault and high jump.

“The current crossbars are of a bright, contrasting color and no longer present a sighting problem for competitors,” Oakes said, “and, therefore, the use of the cloth is no longer needed for competition.”

The final two changes concern the use of fully automatic timing (FAT). Rule 3-96 now allows all ties for place finishes and/or determining qualifiers for a subsequent round to be broken using timing to one one-thousandths of a second.

The addition of Rule 3-9-9 allows .32 or .22 caliber starter’s pistols (closed barrel) to be used at indoor and outdoor meets using FAT.

The committee also identified six points of emphasis for next season: 1) electronic devices, 2) observed violation reporting procedures, 3) starter’s pistols, 4) equipment failure, 5) pole vault and 6) visible undergarments.

Track and field is the third-most popular sport among boys and the second-most popular sport among girls at the high school level with 544,180 boys and 444,181 girls participating during the 2006-07 season, according to the High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS. It also ranks second in school sponsorship for both boys and girls.


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