NOTE: Due to the cancellation of spring sports last year because of the Coronavirus, the 2020 NFHS Track and Field Rules will be used for the 2021 season. The Points of Emphasis written last year will apply for the 2021 season. These points, which all reference the 2020 NFHS Track and Field/Cross Country Rules Book, will be in effect for the 2021 season.
Providing a quality experience to track and field athletes, coaches, and spectators does not happen by accident. Many months of pre-planning and execution have occurred before the event is finalized and the first event begins.
Most standardized checklists include foundational topics such as: establishing entry limitations and substitution deadlines, securing meet personnel, developing a meet schedule, and preparing the facility to host the event. Quality meet administrators know and understand that while covering these essential items is certainly necessary and appropriate, the ability to drill down to the smallest details is equally important and critical for ensuring success.
While not included on most checklists, pay special attention to the following items as they can dictate the success or failure of your event:
Putting on a quality track and field event is not easy. Do not let addressing the most obvious elements overshadow the less obvious during your planning.
Recent changes within multiple track and field rules codes regarding the definition of relay exchange zones prompted the rules committee to adjust NFHS exchange zone rules.
The rule change does not require that tracks be repainted or resurfaced in order to be in compliance with NFHS rules. There is no immediate cost to schools as the current track markings can be utilized with minor modifications.
The acceleration zone is now incorporated into the exchange zone, thus creating a 30-meter exchange zone. Existing acceleration zone markings (triangles, squares) or colored tape placed at that location, may be used to denote the beginning of the exchange zones on a track.
In sprint relays such as the 4x100 meter and 4x200 meter, and other relays with legs of 200 meters or less, the outgoing runner, while waiting for the baton, must be positioned entirely inside the 30-meter exchange zone.
The exchange zones for relay races with legs more than 200 meters are not impacted by this rule change.
Assisting Injured Athletes
NFHS rules in track and field and cross country outline that it is an unfair act when a competitor receives any assistance.
Previous changes to NFHS cross country rules created the exception that allows a competitor to assist an injured or ill competitor without being disqualified when medical staff is not present at the event because, in a clear majority of these types of situations, the action is intended to be an act of good sportsmanship and not an attempt to circumvent the rules. This same rule now applies to both sports and has been modified to include those situations in which medical assistance may be at the event but is not readily available to assist the injured or ill competitor.
The competitor who receives aid will be disqualified, but when no advantage is gained the competitor assisting should not be penalized for exhibiting good sportsmanship.
The final decision in these situations rests with the meet referee who has sole authority to rule on infractions, irregularities and disqualifications in a meet.