As Michigan high school football begins another exciting season, take a moment to review rule changes that go into effect this fall.

The Michigan High School Athletic Association shares changes to Michigan high school football rules.

  • The definition of unnecessary roughness was expanded to include excessive contact with an opponent, including a defenseless player, which incites roughness. A defenseless player can be considered one no longer involved in a play, a runner whose progress has been stopped, a player focused on receiving a kick or a receiver who has given up on an errant pass, or a player already on the ground. Unnecessary and excessive contact can include blindside blocks and players leaving their feet to contact an airborne receiver attempting to secure the ball.
  • The grabbing of a quarterback’s facemask by a defensive player, if it does not including the twisting, pulling or turning of the facemask, will be ruled incidental and result in a five-yard penalty instead of a roughing-the-passer penalty and automatic first down.
  • A 2014 rule change stated that the kicking team must have at least four players on each side of the kicker when ready-for-play is signaled; a change this season states four players must be lined up on each side of the kicker when the ball is kicked. That fourth player may shift after ready-for-play but before the kick to comply with this formation rule, but may not go in motion more than five yards behind the ball. If the shifting player travels more than five yards behind the ball, it is a dead-ball foul for encroachment.

A few changes will go into effect for other fall sports:

  • In cross country, the loosening on what runners are allowed to wear during competition continues after a ban on jewelry was lifted in 2014. Runners also now may wear sunglasses, and previous restrictions have been eliminated for specific styles of head gear – ski bands, head bands, stocking caps and hoods attached to other clothing. Previously, those head gear had to meet criteria including color and size of brand logos displayed.
  • In swimming and diving, the ban on wearing jewelry has been lifted. The National Federation of State High School Associations deemed the ban unnecessary because there is little risk of injury to the competitor or opponents.