The most visible rules change in high school sports this year is right at eye level - field hockey players are under a mandate to wear eye protection now when they play.
But it's not the rule change that has had the biggest impact. That honor belongs to another field hockey modification.
The penalty corner has long been considered an enhanced scoring opportunity in the sport - half the defense is 50 yards away when the ball goes into play; the offense is able to bring the ball immediately into the scoring circle and create an effective short-hand opportunity.
No more - the ball now must leave, then re-enter, the scoring circle, before a shot can be made. This wording replaces the previous rule, which defined three circumstances under which a shot could be made on a corner play: If it did not leave the circle, the ball still could be played if it stopped on its own or was controlled by an offensive player.
What's the difference? If you're a club or college player who's accustomed to playing on artificial turf, almost none at all. But if you're playing on grass, this rule virtually eliminates the advantage earned by a team that is able to penetrate the scoring area and force a defensive foul, creating the corner.
My own informal survey of local coaches has found only one who likes the new rule - or, to be more accurate, one who doesn't dislike it. The rest seem to agree that this was a bad move for the sport, which already is hard for the casual fan to understand.
The eyewear rule has created an unusual situation in that the rule's mandate does not prescribe uniform equipment for each player on a team - and some of the girls will find that the model they've chosen will be worthless outside of the high school field hockey arena.
The National Federation of State High School Associations says only that the eye protection must meet American Society for Testing and Materials' standards, which includes wire frame and cage goggles - which are the most common in use by teams in the area. But games played under the Rules of Hockey established by field hockey's international governing body, the players must wear approved bubble-style goggles.
One other change in the sport this year will cause heartache if it becomes necessary to enforce. Officials may now hand out 10-minute as well as 5-minute yellow cards. As in ice hockey, the player who commits the cardable offense must leave the field until the penalty expires, with the team playing shorthanded for that length of time.
A rules interpretation change in soccer has many a fan up in arms, thinking the referees are letting the players get away with something.
Officials were advised this year to make distinction between hand balls that are intentional and hand contact that is inadvertent. In other words, there may be situations where it appears a soccer player touches the ball illegally, but that is not the case.
The hand ball call should still be made if the player handles, or directs, the ball using a part of the body normally prohibited from contacting the ball. But if the ball just bounces, it's no longer a foul.
Or, as one referee explained to me, "Did the hand play the ball, or did the ball play the hand?"
A rule change for soccer that was delayed until 2013 concerns the uniform requirement. The PIAA has discussed, passed, retracted and delayed a requirement that soccer uniforms be of one color from head to toe - that is, the jersey, shorts, socks and any other piece of equipment be either white (for the home team), or a distinct dark color, usually black, for the visitors.
This could pose a problem for schools that was to save money by buying single sets of shorts and socks, for example, that can be used with both home and away jerseys - Juniata, for example, has red shorts at home, which would be prohibited under this rule.
It may not be the rule, but Juniata has taken the initiative to require something of players that does seem to make substitutions move more quickly, at least from the point of view of the officials. Players coming onto the field carry brightly colored pinney vests - which they are recommended to wear on the sideline anyway - and exchange the vest with the player they are replacing, so the official knows who is leaving, and when that player is clear.
Jeff Fishbein is sports editor of The Sentinel. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.