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SFIA Members Discuss Potential Rules Changes in Team Sports

Source: Sports & Fitness Industry Association

SILVER SPRING, MD – April 14, 2015 – At the 8th Annual NFHS/SFIA/NCAA Rules Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, executives from a number of SFIA member companies, the rules editors from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and rules editors for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) discussed potential rules changes that could affect equipment and uniforms for each sport played at the high school and collegiate level.    

The meeting was held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Indianapolis.  In all, more than 100 representatives from nearly 70 sports companies attended the event.  Brands which were represented included adidas America, ASICS, Augusta Sportswear, Baden Sports, Boombah, Brine, Combat, Easton,  Louisville Slugger, McDavid, Marucci, Mizuno,  Nike, Porter Athletic, Rawlings, Reebok, Riddell, Russell, Shock Doctor, Under Armour, Wilson, among others.

Among the featured speakers were SFIA President/CEO Tom Cove and Dr. Stefan Duma, PhD, Virginia Tech, Department Head, Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics.

Cove gave some recent sports participation trends and topline industry details from SFIA’s soon-to-be released 2015 State of the Industry address.  Cove revealed that that fastest growing sport in the U.S. is stand up-paddling, the leading participation sport is walking for fitness, the running boom has stabilized, and the biggest buzzword/trend is ‘athleisure.’

Duma spoke about Head Impact Exposure and the 5 Star Rating System.  The Virginia Tech 5 Star Rating system has become a marketing force in the world of protective headgear.  Dr. Duma discussed the rating system and the planned implementation of the 5 Star Rating System for ice hockey helmets, lacrosse helmets and sensor devices.

The morning portion of this one-day meeting also featured a series of presentations by NOCSAE Executive Director Mike Oliver, NFHS Chief Operating Officer Jim Tenopir, NCAA Director of Playing Rules and Officiating Dan Calandro, Colorado School of Public Health Associate Professor R. Dawn Comstock, PhD, who oversees the NFHS Injury Surveillance System Report, and Datalys Center for Sports Injury Research & Prevention’s  Zachary Kerr who gave a report on the NCAA Injury Surveillance System Report.

One of the major takeaways from the day came from Dr. Comstock’s presentation where she stated that “high school sports are very safe” as there are two injuries in high school sports per every 1,000 Athlete Exposures, and an Athlete Exposure is considered as an appearance in a game or practice.  She stated that the most common injury in sports is either a strain or a sprain.

There were 15 sports meetings on the agenda which specifically targeted baseball, basketball, football, field hockey, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, spirit (cheerleading), swimming & diving, track & field, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling.  At each sport-specific meeting, the respective NFHS and NCAA rules editors explained what rules changes were being proposed for that sport and when they were scheduled to take effect.

The overall goals of the Rules Conference included:

  • Provide an opportunity for the members of the rules making bodies (NFHS and NCAA) and the industry to become acquainted.
  • Determine the best ways to develop and implement rule changes that affect equipment.
  • Work on ways to communicate rule changes to the industry, team dealers and retailers prior to their implementation.
  • Discuss ways to communicate in advance concerns pertaining to possible rules changes.

“This annual NFHS/SFIA/NCAA Meeting is not a decision making occasion,” states SFIA’s Cove.  “It exists to facilitate discussions among interested SFIA-member companies and organizations on issues related to sports rules as they pertain to equipment and apparel.”

According to NFHS Chief Operating Officer Jim Tenopir, the rules meeting discussions are designed for a certain amount of ‘give and take,’ but discussions always stay focused on three issues common to all rules makers, namely the impact a given product may have on (1) risk minimization; (2) the balance between offense and defense; and (3) the sound traditions of the various sports.

“We have an opportunity to play the role of a facilitator in situations like this where it’s important for the rules making bodies like the National Federation and the NCAA to get constructive input from our membership which makes all the products necessary to play competitive sports,” notes Cove. 

“I want to thank SFIA for helping facilitate this meeting and bringing all parties together to meet and discuss rules issues for team sports at the high school and college level,” says Pat Ryan of Wilson Sporting Goods Company.   “Every company attending this event is a competitor, but it’s great to have this kind of rules discussion for everyone and have a clear understanding of what those potential rules changes may be.”

“This meeting provides invaluable interaction with the rules editors of the NFHS and NCAA,” says Andrea Gordon of Diamond Sports.  “It’s a must-attend event every year.”

“At this event, I can attach a name to a face and connect with others in the industry,” says Brent Wiedenbach of Baden Sports.  “This meeting provides clarity of rules for all sports.”

The Sports & Fitness Industry Association, the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs, and member services.

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