The NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports is asking that health and safety implications be considered in every playing rule change. Some changes are made for health and safety reasons (or claimed health and safety reasons like the football substitution proposal) but CSMAS wants health and safety to be a larger consideration in all playing rules discussions:
A prime example is a recent proposal from the Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Committee that would require schools to add 10-inch pegs to their rinks that goals would rest upon in order to keep them more firmly anchored in place. The committee wanted to add the pegs so that goalies can’t intentionally bump the goal off of its spot in order to stop play and negate an offensive threat. The committee’s discussion took place amid the context of competitive fairness, but there are potential health and safety implications of the goal being more difficult to move – players careening into a goal sitting on those pegs could, potentially, be at greater risk.
The NCAA staff will now work to create a more formal process where the health and safety implications of all playing rules can be addressed. One possibility is a period where CSMAS may comment on the health or safety impact of all rules, not just those targeting health and safety issues in a sport. An outline of such a process is expected in December.
CSMAS also issued revised a document which sets guidelines on contact in football practices. The document, which will go through at least one more round of feedback from conferences and medical organizations before being finalized, was changed to target live tackling or live contact rather than focusing on full-pads. The guidelines seek to limit live contact practices to no more than two per week and a total of 1.5 times the number of weeks in the season (e.g. 21 live contact practices in a 14-week season). There would be no new limits on when or how often football players can wear pads.