There is nothing better than Friday nights under the lights, cheering on your favorite high school football team. The crowd is eagerly anticipating their team’s kickoff. The players are pumped up, lined up and waiting for the signal from the refs for the opening kickoff. The cheerleaders are getting the crowd on its feet to make some noise. There’s the signal, and the game has begun. The visiting team runs the ball back and gets stopped. Several plays later, another call and Coach is not happy and speaks to the ref. The ref notices the pouch in Coach’s mouth. Not good. Using smokeless tobacco on the sidelines could earn Coach a unsportsmanlike conduct call.
According to the 2011 NFHS Football Rules, using tobacco can get you penalized, whether you are a player or a nonplayer.
SECTION 5: NONCONTACT UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT BY PLAYERS, page 71
ART. 1.. No player shall act in an unsportsmanlike manner once the game officials assume authority for the contest. Examples are, but not limited to:
h. Using tobacco or smokeless tobacco.
– SECTION 8: NONCONTACT UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT BY NONPLAYERS, page 73
ART. 1… No coach, substitute, athletic trainer or other team attendant shall act in an unsportsmanlike manner once the game officials assume authority for the contest, Examples are, but not limited to:
j. Using tobacco or smokeless tobacco.
PENALTY: Unsportsmanlike – (S27) – 15 yards. The second unsportsmanlike foul results in disqualification.
Under the NFHS Coaches Code of Ethics, Appendix F, page 100, the Coach shall:
- take an active role in the prevention of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse.
- avoid the use of alcohol and tobacco products when in contact with players.
Coaches need to stress to players that tobacco and nicotine can’t be part of their lives, on or off the field if they want to be at the top of their game. That includes electronic cigarettes which contain nicotine in liquid form. Nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure within seconds of use, putting extra stress on the heart which may reduce athletic performance.
It’s not about winning or losing on the field, but it is about teaching players about life. In order to do that coaches have to be good role models by setting good examples, following the rules and expecting the same of their students.
Thank you, Robert K., high school teacher and football official, who took our Florida Statewide Tobacco Prevention online course last year, for providing us with this valuable information.