Monday, August 15, 2011

Let's Talk About Jewelry!

If he stops to take off his jewelry they are just gonna DQ him for 'delay of meet' anyway.
I have never understood why the high school swimming rule-makers have such an obsession with jewelry.  Kids can't wear any, even if it is just a hair band that a girl put on her wrist and forgot to take it off.  Every Olympic year my swimmers come to me and say "Hey!  Every girl they interviewed in the Olympics was wearing earrings!?  What gives?"

Of course, I just shrug my shoulders.  I don't have an answer.  I write it off as one of those rules that makes sense for some activities so they just make it a rule for all sports with no consideration for each sport individually.  There isn't really an injury risk or a competitive advantage, right?    It is just nit-picking for the sake of nit-picking, and in my opinion it is ridiculous to disqualify an athlete over an earring or a wristband. Nobody wants to lose that way and nobody wants to win that way either.  What bothers me is that jewelry becomes the dominating conversation at most of our coaches meetings before the season and at meets.  Now whenever I host a meet I actually put in the meet info something like this:  "There will be a brief and awkward coaches meeting at 12:45 so we can talk ad nauseum about jewelry!"

Even on the year cheatajima forced us to add the dolphin kick to the breaststroke pull-out and there was so much confusion about where the dolphin kick was allowed to be placed, we still spent the majority of our meeting talking about jewelry and virtually ignored the important stuff in comparison.  The best part of that was that the guy who ran our meeting had the pull-out rule all wrong and we argued about it all season because officials in my area were making bad calls.  Seriously... it was absolutely ridiculous.

Last year, I thought we were starting to get it right.  The rule was that if the officials saw a kid wearing jewelry they gave them a warning.  If the kid ignored it, they got deeq'ed.  I could live with that.  So, naturally I was ticked this week when I got the email below:

·         By the approval of the MSHSAA Board of Directors, Missouri will put into place a more restrictive rule than the NFHS.  This adoption was made for the sport of track and field for the 2010-11 school year, and it is being expanded to include swimming and diving for 2011-12.
·         Each swimming/diving meet should start with a coaches meeting prior to the start of the meet to handle scratches/adds and other meet information. The meet Director may run this meeting; however, the Referee/Starter will attend to administer a Jewelry Warning to the entire field. From this point forward, any violation of the Jewelry Rule will be a disqualification of the athlete from the event in which the violation occurred.
·         At meets where a coaches meeting is not possible, a request for an alternative method for issuing the Warning may be requested from the MSHSAA Office.
·         At the State Championships, the Warning will be attached to the Team Packet which must be picked up by each HEAD COACH. A Warning will also be given during the FIRST CALL to every event; for example, “First Call 50yd Freestyle: The uniform and jewelry rule are in effect.”
·         The ultimate responsibility for having each competitor compliant with the uniform and the jewelry rule lies with the COACH.
·         This adoption also appears in the 2011-12 Swimming and Diving Manual, which can be accessed from the MSHSAA website, and as a stand-alone article in the swimming area of the website.

Come on, guys!  Really?  We all know that kids are gonna forget to take it off.  Do we really need to take it that far?  Is jewelry ever going to not be the last thing on my mind to talk about with kids before their races?

Ugh.  How frustrating.  Just let the kids wear their dang jewelry. 


  1. I like to call him "Winajima" because thats what he tends to do when the Olympics roll around.

    I remember swimming a race in high school once- the meet was coming down to the last couple events. I raced a guy in the 100 breast and he touched me out...only to be dq'd for wearing jewelry. Instead of them taking us to the final relay the meet was over. An incredibly anti-climactic ending to a great meet. I remember feeling pretty awful about it at the time too.

  2. NISCA, the HS federation, and USAS have absolutely got to get in the same room at some point and figure out how to fix HS swimming (maybe throw the Y and the NCAA in there too, while you're at it). There is no reason why it should be so different than "normal" (read: club) swimming in terms of rules like these, why it should be held in 3 different seasons, or why there should be such animosity and poor communication between HS and club coaches. HS swimming is a great way to get kids interested in the sport, better prep for the rigors of college swimming (b/c of the difference btw. duel meets and long-format club meets) and should be FUN as well as fast. Get these guys in the same room and tell them to fix things.