Odd rules prevail in high school sports

October 12, 2009 — by David Eng

Stripes, bows and Under Armour all have a strange connection—they are sources of quirky sports uniform restrictions.

Wide stripes banned in field hockey uniforms

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) recently announced the release of a new field hockey rule regarding the width of an in-seam stripe, one of the factors involved in the school’s purchasing of new uniforms for the current season.

This policy, which will take effect in the next couple of years, was enacted primarily to eliminate a possibly deceiving uniform feature. For instance, if a navy blue in-seam stripe were too wide, referees and other players might briefly mistake the whole jersey for being that color. This may lead to brief confusion, especially when the opposing team’s jersey happened to feature a solid navy blue color as well.

“We purchased new uniforms because the old ones were ratty-looking,” said athletic director Peter Jordan. “In the course of purchasing these new uniforms we heard about some new NFHS rules which take effect in the next couple of years that govern certain things like the width of the in-seam stripe. We just wanted to make sure we were getting some uniforms we could use for the next few years.”

Hair bow restrictions tie into jewelry rule

For the cross-country team, wearing hair bows or “racing ribbons” has been somewhat of a tradition to inspire team unity and spirit.

NFHS rules permit girls to wear up to and no more than two ribbons in their hair, but they do require they match school uniform colors, which in Saratoga’s case are red and white. All of the girls runners also must wear the same style bow, or the entire team would be required to remove them.

This stringent policy ties into the jewelry rule, which prohibits runners from wearing any adorning items.

“They have to be school colors. They have to be made out of a certain material and be consistent throughout the whole team. That’s where they draw the line. You can’t just have any decorative hair-control device,” Jordan said.

Identical down to the undergarment

A similar procedure to what deals with the girls’ racing ribbons also applies to nearly all sports and visible undergarments, such as the synthetic material of Under Armour

For example, if more than one contestant of a track relay team wants to wear Under Armour beneath the typical school jersey, all members of the team must wear that identical color if they choose to wear any visible undergarment. This color must be white, black or a solid school color.

“These rules are kind of silly, yet their intentions are positive,” said Jordan.