Fall Sports for Dummies: Be in the Know!

Fall sports allow children to learn timeless values like working as a team, developing a solid work ethic, and winning and losing with grace. As a spectator, many sports are easy to follow because their popularity leads to a common knowledge of the game. Others are trickier though.

Luckily, the Florida High School Athletic Association shares the rules for all high school sports in its yearly manuals, which are easily accessible online. Here is the breakdown of three fall sports. 

Cross Country

Varsity-level cross country teams include five to seven runners while teams at the junior varsity level or below can have an unlimited number of runners unless a meet director puts specific restrictions in place. During the regular season, meet directors can allow up to 10 runners, but only the first seven runners to complete the 3.1-mile course will be scored. Boys and girls are required to run the course separately. 

Each runner receives points based on the place in which they finish the race. For example, the first place finisher receives one point, the second place finisher gets two points and so on. The points of the first five finishers for each team are added up for a combined team score. The 6th and 7th place finishers can displace scorers on opposing teams, pushing them to higher scores. Just like golf, the team with the lowest combined score wins.


In soccer, games are broken into two 45-minute halves that contain stoppage play before the half ends. The game clock doesn’t pause, even when the players aren’t active, so the referee determines how many extra minutes should be played.

Players must remain onside and will be called offside if the referee notices an offensive player closer to the goalie than the nearest defensive player before a pass. Free kicks occur when a player is fouled, and yellow and red cards are distributed if the referee determines that a hit or kick was illegal. Corner kicks are awarded to the offensive team when a defensive player pushes the ball over their goal line and out of bounds. A goal is scored when the entire soccer ball passes over the goal line. 


In volleyball, teams consist of six players who rotate on the court. Games are played to 25 points and teams must win by two points. Matches can be best of three or five. A point is started when one side serves the ball over the net. If the ball is not touched after a serve, it’s called an ace. Players can only hit the ball on their own side three times before returning it, and a player may not hit the ball twice in a row. There are boundary lines that the ball must remain in to be considered a point, and players cannot carry, palm or throw the volleyball. 


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Written by Marc Sznapstajler

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