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Sportsmanship Pushed in High Schools

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — First wrestling, now basketball. Good sportsmanship is becoming a priority among the nation's high school athletic associations.

Starting next season, the National Federation of State High School Associations will require basketball officials to meet with coaches and team captains before every game to stress good sportsmanship. The coaches, in turn, must assure the officials that the players know they need to behave themselves.

``It is hoped this dialogue will encourage a trend toward better sportsmanship,'' said Mary Struckhoff, NFHS assistant director. ``We want to make it clear that sportsmanlike conduct is expected of all participants.''

The warnings will be part of the regular pregame conference. A similar rule was adopted by the NFHS wrestling rules committee two weeks ago.

The basketball rules committee this week approved several changes for next season, including the requirement for the pregame briefings on sportsmanship, and identified several areas of concern that will be monitored throughout the season. Those include close guarding, delays of game, palming and intentional fouls.

Among the new rules is one to increase 20-second timeouts to 30 seconds, giving each team three full timeouts and two 30-second timeouts in regulation play.

``This allows teams to have the equivalent of the original four timeouts,'' said rules committee chairman Richard Knox, the deputy executive director of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association. ``After re-evaluating, we decided that 20-second timeouts weren't enough time to give meaningful instruction to the players.''

Another change provided an exception to a rule on substitution during multiple free throws.

Now, when a player must be replaced — having fouled out or because of injury or bleeding, for example — other substitutes may also enter the game before the free throws are taken.

``It didn't make sense to let only one person in if all the players were standing there,'' Knox said. ``This will help speed up the game and make it more efficient.''

The committee also clarified what constitutes illegal contact with the backboard. Players may not touch the backboard or basket ring in order to gain an advantage, and they may not intentionally slap or hit the backboard or cause the ring to vibrate while the ball is in flight, touching the backboard, is in the basket or in the cylinder above the basket.


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