To provide better insight into the challenges of being a high school football game official and help fans learn more about the rules, USA TODAY High School Sports is working with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) on a weekly series about high school football rules.
The material is drawn from the NFHS Football Case Book for 2015. Note that member associations of the NFHS independently make decisions regarding compliance with or modification of these playing rules for the student-athletes in their respective states. Texas and Massachusetts do not use NFHS Football Rules.
Roughing the passer
Where to spot the ball
Today’s topic: PROPERLY WEARING REQUIRED EQUIPMENT DURING THE DOWN (NFHS Football Rule 9-9)
A receiver is detected with a chin strap hanging down:
Situation 1: while going downfield in his pass pattern;
Situation 2: after being blocked by a defender downfield;
Situation 3: after catching a pass and being hit by a defender, he is continuing downfield.
Situation 1: The covering official must determine if the chin strap came loose during a play or was not in place properly before determining that a foul occurred.
Situations 2 and 3: No foul unless the covering official observes the receiver unsnapping the strap which would then be enforced from the succeeding spot.
COMMENT: Game officials must use good judgment when ruling on failure to properly wear required equipment during the down. Whenever a player is involved in contact during the down, it is possible for a tooth and mouth protectors, chin straps, shoes, helmets, etc., to come loose or be displaced. In such cases, it is not a foul.