Participation in competitive sports brings with it unavoidable risks of injury. The NCAA takes appropriate steps to modify safety guidelines, playing rules and standards to minimize those risks and provide student athletes with the best opportunity to enjoy a healthy career.
How does the SSI help determine if rules are needed to protect student-athletes?
The Institute holds meetings on key topics and conducts ongoing research involving student-athlete health such as sports injury. Research data is then used to inform policy and rules decisions made by NCAA committees, monitor injury rates and inform the NCAA membership on the need for protective equipment and/or medical care policy.
What are some examples of playing rules that have done this?
There are examples in every sport, but some notable changes include:
Sport protective equipment;
blood clean-up rules;
football rules prohibiting head-down contact, spearing and targeting a defenseless player;
mouth guards for dental protection;
skin infection policies in wrestling;
eliminating hitting from behind and to the head in ice hockey;
women’s lacrosse eye protection;
soccer skin guards;
pole vault landing systems, expansion of the box and collar padding;
swim start pool depths;
lightning safety standards.
What role does SSI play in shaping these rules?
The NCAA’s health and safety needs are addressed through the collaborative efforts of national office staff, governance committees, sports rules committees, sports issues committees and external associations. Information can be found at the NCAA’s Rules and Officiating site and the Playing Rules Index.
The rules of the games aren’t just in place to ensure integrity and fair competition. They also protect student-athletes from potential harm by prohibiting certain maneuvers – such as dangerous tackling techniques in football — and penalizing violations. The NCAA was originally formed to establish safety procedures for sport competitions, and today its playing rules committees continue to consider ways to protect the well-being of student-athletes by shaping the rules by which they compete.