The NCAA’s Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports has called on the committees that set the playing rules for the various NCAA sports to evaluate the health and safety implications of every rule change before an action is taken.
The committee noted that while rule changes are typically made to ensure fairness on the playing field, or to adapt to changes in playing styles or equipment in a given sport, they can also have a health and safety impact by, for example, enhancing the risk of concussion.
It cited “a prime example” involving “a recent proposal from the Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey Committee that would require schools to add 10-inch pegs to their rinks that goals would rest upon in order to keep them more firmly anchored in place. The committee wanted to add the pegs so that goalies can’t intentionally bump the goal off of its spot in order to stop play and negate an offensive threat. The committee’s discussion took place amid the context of competitive fairness, but there are potential health and safety implications of the goal being more difficult to move – players careening into a goal sitting on those pegs could, potentially, be at greater risk.
“So the competitive safeguards committee emerged from its meeting with a statement calling for all discussions of playing rule changes to include an evaluation of health and safety implications, even if the rule change, such as the hockey recommendation, wasn’t proposed for reasons related to health and safety. The committee asked that the NCAA Sport Science Institute and playing rules staffs develop a collaborative formal review process and report their progress at the committee’s December meeting.”