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High school football (French: football au lycée) is gridiron football played by high school teams in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both countries, but its popularity is declining.[1] According to the Washington Post, between 2009 and 2019, participation in high school football has declined by 9%.[2]

Rules

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) establishes the rules of high school football in the United States.

Since the 2019 high school season, Texas is the only state that does not base its football rules on the NFHS rule set, instead using NCAA rules with certain exceptions shown below.[3][4] Through the 2018 season, Massachusetts also based its rules on those of the NCAA,[5] but it adopted NFHS rules in 2019.[6]

With their common ancestry, the NFHS rules of high school football are largely similar to the college game, though with some important differences:

At least one unique high school rule has been adopted by college football. In 1996, the overtime rules originally utilized by Kansas high school teams beginning in 1971 were adopted by the NCAA, although the NCAA has made five major modifications. Through the 2018 season, each possession started from the 25-yard line. Since 2021, this remains in force through the first two overtime procedures. In the second overtime, teams must attempt a two-point conversion after a touchdown. Secondly, triple overtime & thereafter are two-point conversion attempts instead of possessions from the 25-yard line, and successful attempts are scored as conversions instead of touchdowns.

Thirty-four states have a mercy rule that comes into play during one-sided games after a prescribed scoring margin is surpassed at halftime or any point thereafter. The type of mercy rule varies from state to state, with many using a "continuous clock" after the scoring margin is reached (wherein, except for specific situations, the clock keeps running on plays where the clock would normally stop). Other states end the game once the margin is reached or passed. For example, Texas uses a 45-point mercy rule (to stop the game) only in six-man football; for 11-man football there is no automatic stoppage but the coaches may mutually agree to use a continuous clock.

Most Canadian schools use Canadian football rules adapted for the high school game. The exception is British Columbia, which uses NFHS rules as used in the United States.[9]

Safety and brain health concerns

See also: Health issues in American football and Concussions in American football

Robert Cantu, a Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Co-Founder of the CTE Center at the Boston University School of Medicine, believes that children under 14 should not play tackle football.[10] Their brains are not fully developed, and myelin (nerve cell insulation) is at greater risk in shear when the brain is young. Myelination is completed at about 15 years of age. Children also have larger heads relative to their body size and weaker necks.[11][12]

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is caused by repeated brain trauma, such as concussions and blows to the head that do not produce concussions. It has been found in football players who had played for only a few years, including some who only played at the high school level.[13][14]

An NFL-funded study reported that high school football players suffered 11.2 concussions per 10,000 games or practices, nearly twice as many as college football players.[15]

According to 2017 study on brains of deceased gridiron football players, 99% of tested brains of NFL players, 88% of CFL players, 64% of semi-professional players, 91% of college football players, and 21% of high school football players had various stages of CTE.[16]

Other common injuries include, injuries of legs, arms, and lower back.[17][18][19][20]

References

  1. ^ "Concussions in High School Sports - Can Football be Saved? - Athletico". January 24, 2020.
  2. ^ Bogage, Jacob (October 3, 2019). "D-III football players say choice to forfeit season after injuries was theirs, not college's". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2019. Nationally, high school football participation has declined 9.1 percent over the past 10 years.
  3. ^ "2018–19 Football Manual" (PDF). University Interscholastic League. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  4. ^ "Section 159 – Football Rules". TAPPS Constitution. Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  5. ^ "Rule 69.1" (PDF). Rules and Regulations Governing Athletics. Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. July 1, 2011 – June 30, 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 16, 2009. Retrieved July 28, 2009.
  6. ^ "MIAA Aligns Rules with NFHS in Football, Volleyball & Baseball" (Press release). National Federation of State High School Associations. August 8, 2018. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  7. ^ "New Blocking, Kicking Rules Address Risk Minimization in High School Football" (Press release). National Federation of State High School Associations. April 24, 2018. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
  8. ^ "Football Rules Changes - 2019". National Federation of State High School Associations. May 16, 2019. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  9. ^ "BCFOA Home". British Columbia Football Official's Association. Archived from the original on September 13, 2010. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  10. ^ Nader, Ralph; Reed, Kenneth (November 8, 2016). "The X's and O's of brain injury and youth football". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  11. ^ Cantu, " Concussions and Our Kids"
  12. ^ Paul Solotaroff, "This Is Your Brain on Football" Archived October 1, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, January 31, 2013, Rolling Stone
  13. ^ Toporek, Bryan (December 6, 2012). "New: High School Football Can Lead to Long-Term Brain Damage, Study Says". Education Week. Archived from the original on August 2, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  14. ^ "Deadly Hits: The Story of Ex-football Player Chris Coyne". Lauren Tarshis YouTube page. Lauren Tarshis. September 21, 2012. Archived from the original on May 28, 2017. Retrieved August 27, 2017.
  15. ^ Preps at greater concussion risk Archived November 4, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, ESPN, Tom Farrey, October 31, 2013.
  16. ^ "BU Researchers Find CTE in 99% of Former NFL Players Studied | The Brink | Boston University".
  17. ^ Willigenburg, N. W.; Borchers, J. R.; Quincy, R.; Kaeding, C. C.; Hewett, T. E. (2016). "Comparison of Injuries in American Collegiate Football and Club Rugby: A Prospective Cohort Study - Nienke W. Willigenburg, James R. Borchers, Richard Quincy, Christopher C. Kaeding, Timothy E. Hewett, 2016". The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 44 (3): 753–60. doi:10.1177/0363546515622389. PMID 26786902. S2CID 21829142.
  18. ^ "The Common Types of Football Injuries".
  19. ^ Makovicka, J. L.; Patel, K. A.; Deckey, D. G.; Hassebrock, J. D.; Chung, A. S.; Tummala, S. V.; Hydrick, T. C.; Gulbrandsen, M.; Hartigan, D. E.; Chhabra, A. (2019). "Lower Back Injuries in National Collegiate Athletic Association Football Players: A 5-Season Epidemiological Study". Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine. 7 (6). doi:10.1177/2325967119852625. PMC 6582304. PMID 31245431.
  20. ^ "High School Football News".