Kentucky mandates face protection for prep softball players

Kentucky on Tuesday became the first state to require high school softball pitchers, first basemen and third basemen to wear face protection on the field.

High school softball pitchers in Kentucky will now be required to wear protective headgear on the mound. | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The new rule, approved by the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s (KHSAA) Board of Control, will take effect with the 2018 season. The KHSAA had submitted a proposal to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) to make the change nationwide, but it was rejected.

“While I was disappointed with the NFHS Rules Committee action in not approving the proposal, it was not altogether surprising as there will always be disagreement when required equipment issues are debated,” KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said in a statement. “However, we cannot sit idly by any longer when obvious solutions exist to protect the young ladies in the Commonwealth who want to play this great and continually growing game where the talent and ability levels continues to improve. The marketplace will guide folks through the many already existing alternatives for face protection, along with the rules book requirement across the board in all NFHS sports that require equipment to be worn as intended by the manufacturer.

“I am thankful our Board decided to act now rather than wait until the issue reaches critical mass and other entities find themselves in the position of needing to be reactive rather than proactive in this area. Our experience the last few years has left us with multiple anecdotal and documented reports of incidents within our state that leave us no option but to leave our national rules making body behind in terms of waiting for change.

“Our students deserve only the best protection decisions that we, as rules and policy makers, can develop. It is also unfortunate that our Board’s proactive recommendation from 2014 to the member schools was not universally implemented by the school systems, schools, coaches, parents and student participants as perhaps those groups felt the need for a higher body to make the rule a requirement. If that was the case, they need wait no longer.”

The KHSAA’s board also recommended immediate implementation to the Middle School Advisory Committee when that body meets during the 2017-18 school year.

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