EAST LANSING — Approximately 110,000 student athletes will begin practice in eight sports in which Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) sponsors post-season tournaments next week, signaling the beginning of the 2013-14 Fall sports season. There are several significant rules changes on football for 2013 and one on soccer that fans may want to become familiar with:
• Pass interference no longer is an automatic first down if against the defense, or does it result in a loss of down if against the offense. Both are a 15-yard mark off from the previous spot, and the down is replayed except when the penalty against the defense results in a first down.
• If a player’s helmet comes off during a play, it is illegal participation and a 15-yard penalty if that player continues to participate in a play; and a personal foul and a 15- yard penalty if a player from the opposing team initiates contact with a player whose helmet has come off.
• On a catch, an airborne receiver whose forward progress is stopped and is carried out of bounds by a defender will be ruled a legal catch. If the airborne receiver is contacted and driven out of bounds, the result of the play is an incomplete pass.
• Following a penalty on the kicking team for kick catch interference on a fair catch play, the receiving team can opt to take a free kick after the 15-yard penalty has been enforced.
In soccer, Michigan has adopted the National Federation rule involving the disqualification from a game when a player receives a second yellow card and the subsequent red card. Now, in addition to the player being ejected from the contest, that team will have to continue the game a player down. A player receiving a yellow card must leave the game immediately, but now may reenter at the next available opportunity, and no longer have to sit out for 10 minutes. There are no substantial rules change in other fall sports.
Practice sessions begin on Monday, Aug. 12 in football, followed by all other sports on Wednesday, Aug. 14. Practice in football must begin on Aug. 12 for all schools wishing to begin regular season games the weekend of Aug. 29-31. Schools must have 12 days of preseason practice at all levels before their first game, which may not occur before 16 calendar days. All football schools must also conduct at least three days of practice before beginning contact, and those sessions may not include any pads.
In golf and tennis, competition may commence no earlier than after three separate days of team practice, and not before seven calendar days. The first day competition may take place in golf and tennis is Aug. 21. In all other fall sports, contests can take place after seven days of practice for the team and not before nine calendar days. The first day competition may take place in cross country, tennis, soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball in the fall is Aug. 23.
This year, only one football date precedes Labor Day, and most varsity games will take place on Thursday, Aug. 29, that week. Sub-varsity competition may begin on Wednesday, Aug. 28. In Week 1, 253 games will be played on Thursday, 74 contests will be played on Friday, and 12 games will be played on Saturday.
The 2013 Fall campaign culminates with post-season tournaments beginning with the Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals the week of Oct. 1, and wraps up with the Football Playoff Finals on Nov. 29-30. The complete list of post-season tournaments is available at www.mhsaa.com.