CHSAA on Eye Black


Ashton Erickson, Staff Writer

If you haven’t been aware this past year CHSAA has been changing the eye black rule in high school sports. However, the fairness and consistency of these new changes are very poor. 

The three main sports that use eye black in high school are boys lacrosse, baseball, and football. But looking into the rule book right off of CHSAA website, each sport has a different rule on eye black.

Lacrosse: “Eyeshade (grease or non-glare strips or stickers) shall be a solid stroke and may not include words, numbers, logos or other symbols.” (

Baseball: “The high school game is now experiencing eye black that is being used as face decoration, with images and/or sayings being drawn on the faces of players to try to intimidate and/or taunt an opponent. Existing sportsmanship rules are available to prohibit any use of eye black in an inappropriate or unfavorable way.” (

Football: “Examples of illegal equipment include but are not limited to: Eye shade that is not a solid stroke or includes words, numbers, logos or other symbols.” (

Each one of these sports has a different definition of the new eye black rule and don’t have consistency across the board. The wording of these rules also contradicts itself and doesn’t make much sense. 

The football and lacrosse rule states that there can only be one stroke of eye black, but technically a stroke can make up any shape as long as it is not lifted from the surface. It also states that there can’t be any symbol on the face, however it can be argued that one single line across the face (which is what refs will tell you is “legal” eye black) can be considered a symbol. The definition of a symbol is as follows: A symbol is a mark, sign, or a word that indicates, signifies, or it is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. This definition proves that one single stroke that makes a mark can be considered a symbol. But CHSAA officials swear by only allowing football and lacrosse players to have one single stroke across the face. But if a single stroke mark is also a symbol then how does that follow the rule stated in the bulletin of no “other symbols”. 

If we take a look at the baseball rule it only states that eye black can’t be used in any inappropriate way. The rule doesn’t limit the players ability to use the eye black as they want to, it just states it has to be an appropriate way. This is an extreme difference of rules from lacrosse and football compared to baseball because they are allowed to have really any style of eye black as they please. Isn’t it weird how each of the rules are all enforced under CHSAA, but they aren’t the same across all sports?

So why are they singling out lacrosse and football? Why is it that certain high school sports can only have one line of eye black but a different sport in the same state under the same association can use eye black as they please?

The system CHSAA has running right now is outrageous and not fair whatsoever. It wasn’t until this past year where they have tried to enforce this eye black rule in sports of their choosing. And I have experienced these actions in the first hand account. 

Being a junior athlete in high school myself, the first time I’ve ever heard of the “new eye black rule” was the 2022 fall football season. In pre game the refs came up to the players and told us to wipe off our crosses on our cheek. The first reaction we had was in disbelief they made us take off our cross knowing we are a catholic school and play the game driven by Christ. Personally I felt offended and felt like I wasn’t able to express my first amendment right and simply wasn’t able to participate to look good in a high school game. However during the fall football season most refs turned a blind eye to the crosses and other eye black. 

But now we are in 2023 spring sports and the enforcement of this new rule is getting out of hand. Being a lacrosse player and having many close friends who play on the baseball team, we have seen how much of a problem has risen from such a small thing like eye black. Just being barely at the halfway point of the season, every game the officials have made our team wipe any eye black off that isn’t just a straight line, including crosses as well. And this problem has only been with lacrosse and hasn’t been a problem for baseball. 

The biggest problem about the enforcement of these rules is that we as athletes with Catholic beliefs can’t even represent what we play for. Eye black has been a thing in sports for ages and has been used simply for self preference of how cool it looks, and to express certain things like your religion or what you play for. It has become an extreme problem when a little cross on the cheek is banned from a high school sport, violating our right to religion and expression. 

I can see where eye black can get out of hand depending on what kind of person you are dealing with. That is why I believe the baseball rule of eye black is more of a fair and reasonable rule for eye black in high school sports, if it was universal. Athletes shouldn’t be able to black out their face or write or draw any inappropriate phrases or pictures. However I believe they should be able to have a simple cross, and other simple things like triangles or other lines. There is no reason why athletes shouldn’t be able to have eye black of their own, especially considering it has been around since 1942, almost as long as CHSAA has been around.

CHSAA needs to realize the inconsistent and laughable errors they have in their rule book about eye black. Changes need to be made to at least make them look professional and make up their mind on one universal rule across the board.