Uniform Number Rules To Take Effect in 2017
Updated: February 20, 2017
Help for Coaches, Media, Fans and Old Eyes is Here
This is an era of jerseys. Teams have throwback jerseys, breast cancer awareness jerseys, red out, white out, blue out, camo jerseys etc. Sometimes it seems like whatever special occasion can be found for making a new jersey, teams jump on them. Fans, media folks and coaches have complained over the past few years that the uniforms of some Texas high school football teams make it nearly impossible to make out the numbers. With all the new designs come some problems that may have been unanticipated.
Parents can't tell which player is their's. Media cannot accurately report on the game as the view from the press box often makes it impossible to tell who made that tackle, caught that ball or picked up that fumble. Coaches viewing tape of upcoming opponents are at a great disadvantage if they are unable to tell which player is which. It makes it extremely difficult to scout and prepare for a team and gives the team with these confusing numbers a decided advantage.
Beginning with the 2017 season, the 2013 NCAA rule on uniform numbers will be enforced. This NCAA rule is as follows:
- The jersey must have clearly visible, permanent Arabic numerals measuring at least 8 and 10 inches in height front and back, respectively. The number must be of a colour that itself is clearly in distinct contrast with the colour of the jersey, irrespective of any border around the number.
- Teams wearing jerseys/numerals that do not conform to this rule will be asked to change into legal jerseys before the game and before the start of each quarter until the jerseys are changed. (PENALTY – Officials shall charge a team timeout at the start of each quarter the illegal jerseys are worn.)
- All players of a team shall have the same colour and style numbers front and back. The individual bars must be approximately 1½ inches wide. Numbers on any part of the uniform shall correspond with the mandatory front and back jersey numbers.
Texas is one of only two states that follows NCAA football rules for high school football. The other states follow NFHS guidelines. This is not a new rule, but the UIL has announced that it will be enforced beginning with the upcoming football season.
For fans of the uniforms, before you get up in arms about how "the UIL is always making rules," let's lay down the facts.
The UIL does NOT make rules for football. It enforces the rules set by the NCAA (with exceptions.) Those exceptions are when a proposal for an exception is made and then it is sent to a committee and voted upon. These exceptions do not start with the UIL, they start with the schools, the coaches - the stakeholders in Texas high school football.
An example of an approved exception can be found in the wording of what is allowable on the jersey itself:
Other than the player’s number, the jersey may only contain:
Logo for school, conference, mascot, postseason-game, memorial, the military. American flag State flag
EXCEPTION: 1-4-5-a-2. Delete – “NCAA logo” and replace with “UIL logo”
As you can see, exceptions are usually made in cases of common sense or simple logistical differences. The UIL is not in the business of making life difficult or "controlling" Texas high school football. Just like in any UIL activity, the focus is on creating a safe and fair environment in which to compete.
Lone Star Gridiron surveyed Texas high school football coaches and after compiling hundreds of responses, it seems clear that coaches welcome this rule enforcement.
Q1. Do you have uniforms that violate the rule?
NOT SURE 3.7%
Q2. What is your opinion of the rule?
I LIKE IT 74.3%
NO OPINION 14.9%
I DISLIKE IT 11.8%
Q3. What is your opinion of the violation penalty? (1 time out per quarter worn)
I LIKE IT 54.4%
I DISLIKE IT 27.9%
NO OPINION 17.6%
What looks at first to imply that although most coaches are in favor of the rule, there is some ambiguity over the penalty. While at first, you may think that coaches felt the penalty was too harsh, the disagreement over the penalty was more often that it was too light. Some of the comments we received make the picture a bit clearer:
"I think if you are wearing illegal uniform due to numbers you should forfeit the game or change. The rule is the rule."
"If you want to make a fashion statement, go to Paris."
"Some uni's have gotten so bad you can't see numbers from the sideline let alone video."
"I think the penalty should be harsher."
"I would like to see all timeouts taken away."
"Pretty easy...just follow the rules. It is a pain in the butt scouting video with those silly numbers. Do all the crazy stuff you want with the jersey colors but we should be able to see numbers on video, simple as that."
As one who sees many games from press boxes of varying distance from the field, this is a welcome change in Texas high school football.
by Chris Doelle