Three rule adjustments related to safety and an equipment reminder kick off the start of the high school football pre-season schedule - all in the interest of keeping Lincoln Public Schools student athletes safe.

The new safety practices in place will play a key role in making the sport safer for student athletes, said Kathi Wieskamp, athletic director for Lincoln Public Schools.

“Safety in all sports, but particularly football, is a common discussion point around the state and nation right now at all levels,” Wieskamp said. “Taking time to explain it to coaches, student athletes and parents is critical so everyone knows how to participate safely. We really do have the student athlete’s safety at heart."

There are more concussion-related discussions and research occurring each year, Wieskamp continued. New products marketed as improving student-athlete safety are appearing in the sports marketplace, but that comes with a red flag, she cautioned.

Products that alter the protective system by adding or deleting protective padding to the inside or outside of the helmet are currently not allowed because it would void certification for the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSEA ).

NOCSEA certification is required by the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) to address possible compliance, safety and liability concerns. At this time these products are not allowed for use by LPS athletes on or inside their helmets.

The NFHS makes the rules, which are followed by the Nebraska School Activities Association and its members schools. They include:

LOSS OF HELMET AFTER THE DOWN (3-5-10d): The committee clarified that if the helmet comes off completely during subsequent dead-ball action related to the down, and is not directly attributable to a foul by the opponent, the player must leave the game for at least one down (unless half-time or overtime intermission occurs). An official’s time-out shall be called.

INITIATING CONTACT WITH A HELMET-LESS OPPONENT (9-4-3l NEW): In the interest of minimizing risk, the committee added a new illegal personal contact foul. This foul is charged to any player who initiates contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come off completely.

ILLEGAL PARTICIPATION FOR PLAYERS CONTINUING TO PLAY WITHOUT A HELMET (9-6-4g NEW): Continuing with focus on risk minimization, the committee determined that a helmet-less player shall not block, tackle or otherwise participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged when the helmet came off completely. The penalty would be a live-ball, basic-spot foul.

For more, contact Kathi Wieskamp at 402-436-1811. For more on the rule changes specifically, contact the NSAA or visit its website at