Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

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Game Changers

Recently, many sports have experienced new rule changes or additions to their game on the high school, collegiate, and professional level, and Paly students and members of the community have a lot to say about them.
Ella Bishop (24)
Varsity Field Hockey
Ella Bishop (’24) Varsity Field Hockey

Volleyball

Recently, the NCAA made a change to the way volleyball setters see the game. Stanford Women’s Volleyball Coach and Paly parent Kevin Hambly explains the change to the game. 

“The rule change eliminates a double contact call provided the ball stays on the same side of the net,” Hambly said. “Basically, on first contacts and second contacts there can be double contact and play will continue. For third or attacking contacts the old rule will apply.” 

 From now on, all NCAA volleyball players are now able to touch the ball twice in the same attempt on a team’s second contact, which has been a debated topic for a long time now. This affects the position of the setter specifically, as they can now double-touch the ball on the second contact of the play (when they set the ball). Hambly believes this new rule is a benefit, as the rule was a gray area before.

“We are removing one of the subjective rulings in the sport of volleyball,” Hambly said. “The reality is every set is a double contact, no-one contacts it exactly at the same time. [The rule was] just up to the official to decide if it is close enough to a single contact to be ‘legal’.”

According to Hambly, the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages.

“One other positive, is that it will help continue play, which is better for the fans and the players, no-one really wants to have a play ended by a whistle,” Hambly said. “Let the players decide.”

While the change can be beneficial to the fans and overall flow of the game, some players like Paly junior Sophie Mies (a setter on the volleyball team) are upset with this alteration, as it changes the technique they have been working at achieving for a while. 

“On one hand, it’s sad for the players that have worked for a long time trying to perfect their setting and not double, which is annoying,” Mies said. “Players have worked hard not to double. But also, I never thought that doubling affected a play that much, and it takes a lot of pressure off the setter or libero when they set.” 

Overall, this rule seems to be a benefit to the game of volleyball and for setters of the NCAA by speeding up the gameplay. 

Lacrosse

Girls lacrosse is another sport that gained a new rule as of recently. Paly senior and member of the varsity lacrosse team Ella Bishop explains the new rule in girls lacrosse. 

“One of the most impactful new rules for this season is the removal of the requirement that players stop moving after a foul has been called in their favor,” Bishop said. “This is applied unless the play is in the critical scoring area, then it is a whistle start. Previously, you would have to stop and wait for the player who committed the foul to get behind the play.”

Basically, what this means is that players are able to continue moving after a foul has been called in their favor, which keeps the game moving fluidly.

“I think it is a good change,” Bishop said. “It makes the game less choppy and it creates a greater advantage. You are able to use the foul to get past the defense or just catch them off guard.”

However, as is common in most sports, a benefit for the offense is a detriment for the defense. 

“Of course, though, if you are the defending team that committed the foul, then it is harder to find your marks and re-defend,” Bishop said. 

Bishop, a member of the Paly lacrosse team, normally plays a defense position, but finds that this rule actually helps her play instead of inhibiting it.

“I play primarily on defense and this new rule has helped me when I am transitioning the ball up to the other half of the field,” Bishop said. “I will often be fouled as I am running up and this new rule allows me to continue and get the ball out of our defensive half faster.”

Football

The NFL recently implemented a new rule for playoffs where during overtime, both teams get a chance to get the ball so they both have a chance to score. Paly junior and football player Joseph Kessler explains the rule change. 

“If the team that gets the first ball doesn’t score, kicks a field goal, or if the score is tied after both teams possess the ball, the net score would win the game,” Kessler said.

But the rule used to be that if the first team scored a touchdown, then the game would be over and the other team wouldn’t even get the chance to try and score. 

“This would basically guarantee that whoever won the overtime coin flip would win the game,” Kessler said. 

Though the rule change on the surface increases the fairness of the game by decreasing the chance that one team or another would win purely due to luck, Kessler feels that the rule change will make the game more difficult to follow. 

“While I think the NFL tried to make overtime more fair, I think the rule just made it confusing for fans and more importantly, to players,” Kessler said. “But I do think the rules are much better considering it gives each team a chance to win the game.”

Water Polo

Water polo is another sport that has had a rule change. In the sport, there is a cone on either side of the pool representing a line in front of the goal that typically players are not allowed to pass unless they’re holding the ball. Entering this area without the ball will result in a turnover. 

However, the new rule allows for players to pass beyond this line when far enough from the goal. Essentially, if the player is 2 meters away from the cage on either side, going inside this invisible line is allowed because the angle of a potential shot is bad enough that it doesn’t provide a shooting advantage to get closer. This can create a change in how plays are constructed.

 “I think that players may adjust their offensive tactics, focusing less on two-meter plays and more on dynamic movement,” Katie Spitzer (‘25) said. “Defenders might need to change their game, because they could be more aggressively marked.”

The biggest change this new rule brings to water polo surrounds a specific type of play, where the team on offense has an advantage over the defensive team by one player, called a six-on-five play, which occurs after a defensive player is ejected after a major foul, leaving the offense with six players and the defense with five. 

“With six-on-five, it will give a team more options,” Spitzer said. “New plays can come from this, and overall the rule promotes a faster, fairer game.” 

Baseball

The MLB recently instituted a pitch clock set at 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with runners on base, meaning pitchers now have a shorter window in which they must throw their pitch. 

This rule change dropped the average time of a nine-inning major league game to 2 hours and 40 minutes long, a 24-minute decrease in a season of change that resulted in a spike in batting average and the most stolen bases in nearly 40 years. This is because with less time to plan and set up for a pitch, pitchers can focus less on opponents trying to steal a base or lining up the perfect pitch. 

In an age where consumers have shorter attention spans and there are more entertainment options than ever, baseball’s notoriously leisurely pace threatens the appeal of the sport. To combat this, MLB instituted the pitch clock.

Tommy Stanton is a Northwestern senior and a White Sox fan, who is doing his honors thesis on the impact of the recent rule changes in baseball. Stanton shares his thoughts on the new, faster paced adjustment. 

“If a pitcher doesn’t deliver the pitch by the time the clock hits 0, a ball is called, and if the batter is not ready before the 8 second mark, a strike is called,” Stanton explained.

The pitch clock was first implemented in the 2023 season, and at first, Stanton wasn’t a fan, since players had not yet adapted to the new rules. 

“I was somewhat apprehensive at first, as pitchers were getting lots of pitch clock violations early in the year and it threatened to dominate the storyline of games,” Stanton said. “Very quickly, though, pitchers settled into a new rhythm, and violations became very infrequent. I really enjoyed the faster pace of the game, with less waiting in between pitches.”

Some fans also worried about whether the rule change would change the nostalgic elements of The Great American Pastime, or even endanger pitchers.

“The institution of the pitch clock was controversial, as some fans felt it interfered with the “timelessness” and purity of the game,” Stanton said. “Others worried that the pitch clock would lead to more injuries for pitchers, as less recovery time in between pitches can cause increased fatigue and higher injury rates. There has been research showing that the faster game speed caused by pitch clocks (which were trialed in the minor leagues for a number of years prior to the implementation of the rule in the major leagues) increases muscle fatigue in arm muscles, which can lead to injury. Despite those worries, there was no large injury outbreak amongst pitchers.”

Overall, the majority of baseball fans are happy with the new change, as baseball is a widely enjoyed sport, but a longer game. The new faster pace may help garner new fans and create a stronger baseball culture. Stanton points out that the pitch clock has helped eliminate some of the more heinous moments of waiting in baseball. 

 “There’s a pretty hilarious video of Pedro Baez of the Dodgers taking 111 seconds to throw a pitch during the 2016 playoffs, and the clock has done away with blatant time-wasting like that,” Stanton said. 

In this iconic moment, even baseball’s legendary commentator Joe Buck struggled to fill the agonizing wait, asking his co-commentator, “Kenny, would you like to fill some time here?” Fortunately, Joe Buck won’t have to worry about vamping anymore, thanks to this new rule, which also has successfully attracted more fans. 

The clock seems to have worked, too” Stanton explained. “MLB per-game attendance was up 9.1% this year, the largest increase in 30 years.” 

And for Stanton, it makes watching his team, the White Sox, a bit more enjoyable; the Sox’s 2023 season was historically terrible, getting the fourth-worst score record in the majors. 

“Selfishly, as a diehard White Sox fan, it made it a lot more bearable for me to watch my team play because I knew it would all be over sooner,” he said.

Field Hockey

The NFHS federations board of directors approved a rule change in its eyewear rule for field hockey. Charlotte Barclay, a Paly sophomore on the varsity field hockey team explains the change. 

The new rule is that players no longer have to wear goggles during games for field hockey,” Barclay said.

The now-changed rule that is found in the federation’s Field Hockey Rules Book had been carried out since 2011 and said that “players shall wear eye protection that met the ASTM standard for field hockey at the time of manufacture.” It has now been changed to “goggles may be worn by all field hockey players.” 

Although safety issues could be a concern, Barclay expresses her overall approval of the rule change.

“I think it’s a great rule because the goggles really obstruct your ability to play as well as you can,” Barclay said. “The goggles also limit your potential on the field, especially as a forward player. It allows players to have a better view of the field, as well as creating better passes, better shots, and as a defender, it’s easier to see the ball to stop it.” 

Despite the benefits, Barclay also acknowledges the negative aspects of the rule change.

“I think there is something to be said about it [safety],” Barclay said. “It is safer to wear them because field hockey balls are really hard and it would really be an issue if you were to get hit in the face.”

 

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About the Contributors
Scarlett Frick, Staff Writer
Hi! I am Scarlett Frick, a Staff Writer for the 2023-2024 Viking Staff. I am a member of the varsity girls water polo team as well as the swimming & diving team, and one fun fact about me is I am also a lifeguard!
Claire Cho, Copy Editor
Hi! I'm Claire, Copy Editor for Viking's 2023-2024 School year. I am a member of the Paly girl's soccer team, and a fun fact about me is that I also am the coach of a recreational soccer team of 8-year-old boys!
Kamili Fossati-Moiane, Staff Writer

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