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Articles from 2004:

Referee?s Corner #3 (08/03/2004)
Submitted by: Brian Nicholson


Referee's Corner #4 (08/08/2004)
Submitted by: Brian Nicholson


The Pass

The pass - throwing the football - it's a pretty simple concept and fundamental to our game. But just what is a pass? Does it matter which way it is thrown? If someone throws an offside pass is the ball dead right then and there? What is the rule on the half-back muffing the on-side pass. This Official's Corner addresses these concerns.

A pass is any ball thrown, handed, dropped, knocked or batted in any direction; a ball that bounces off a player in any direction is also considered to be a pass.

Onside passes are ones that travel parallel to or toward the player's dead line (the line at the back of the end zone).

A player who muffs (an unsuccessful attempt to catch a pass, punt or kick off?the ball being touched in the process) an onside pass and before a forward pass has been thrown, the ball is free to both teams until it touches the ground. When it touches the ground, the ball is loose and the ball is live to the offense only. If an onside pass strikes the ground before touching an offensive player, the ball is dead at the point at which it struck the ground and the next play will begin from that point.

Offside passes are only legal if it is the first offside pass and it comes from behind the line of scrimmage. An offside pass thrown by a ball carrier who crosses the line of scrimmage, then returns across it is illegal and is subject to the rules governing an illegal offside pass. Offside passes are live until - 1) they are caught by a member of the offensive team, in which the play is immediately dead and the ball will return to the point at which the ball was thrown from. The next play will take place from this point. 2) the ball strikes the ground, in which the ball is immediately dead. The next play begins at the point at which the ball was thrown. 3) the ball is caught by the defense and is considered intercepted and may be advanced by the defense.

It is important to remember that hand-offs in a forward direction are considered an offside pass. Thus, if it is the first offside pass after a scrimmage it is legal. Forward hand offs on plays after a punt or kick off are illegal. The ball is blown dead at the spot at which the hand off occurred. Onside passes after a punt or kick off are of course legal and any number may be permitted.


PLAY: On a forward pass, B1 is screeing receiver A1. However, the pass is thown too far, and A1 would not have caught the ball, even if there was no screening by B1.

e-mail answers to briannicholson@ns.sympatico.ca or bnichol@eastlink.ca

Answers to Make the Right Call #3
( All answers are from the 2002-2003-2004) Canadian Rule Book for Touch Football
1) Onside Pass - When the ball is thrown, handed, dropped, knocked, batted, or propelled in any manner (including bouncing off the body) by a player parallel to, or in the direction of that player's dead line.
2) Bobbled Ball - When a player attempting to complete a pass touches the ball, loses contact with the ball, then catches the ball without the ball touching another player.
3) Dribbled Ball - When a player deliberately or accidentally kicks the ball with the foot or leg below the knee, without having had control of the ball in the hand.
4) Illegal Re-entry - When a player intentionally leaves the field while a play is in progress, then returns and interferes with the play.
5) Remote Zone Pass Interference - Interference made by either team in an area remote from the arrival point of any pass. Interference before the ball is thrown is also considered Remote Zone Pass Interference
6) Objectionable Conduct - The use of intimidating, profane, obscene, insulting language, or gestures to an opponent, official, or spectator by any player or occupant of a team bench. Conduct such as throwing the ball at an opponent, official or occupant of a team bench or the threatening or striking of an official, player, or occupant of a team bench. Prolonged arguments with the officials.
7) No Yards - When a player of the punting team touches the punted ball first or is within the restraining zone at the time the ball is touched by an opponent.
8) Sleeper Play - A deliberate attempt by the offensive team to deceive the defense as to the number and position of offensive team players who will participate in the next play. It is usually executed by having an offensive player (who participated in the previous play) stand on the field in front of the team bench thereby being camouflaged. A 'hurry-up' offense is not considered to be a sleeper play f all 7 offensive payers are clearly visible to the defense and there is no apparent attempt to hide their positions.

REFEREE'S CORNER #5 (part 2) (09/30/2004)
Submitted by: Brian Nicholson

Spiking the Ball

There seems to be a wide variation in opinion regarding what the correct call for a player who spikes the ball is. The following is a case from the Case Book regarding a 'spiked ball'?

Case #15 (pg. 62 - Rule 22 Objectionable Conduct)
Play: Following a touchdown, A3 spikes the ball into the ground. A4 picks up the ball and returns it to the official.
Ruling: No penalty should be assessed for spiking the ball. An objectionable conduct penalty should be called only if the spiking delayed the smooth operation of the game. If no delay had been caused, there is no need to assess a penalty.

In this scenario, I think 'smooth operation of the game' requires some clarification. Both Rick Rivers and I discussed this point and felt that if the ball was spiked and required a significant length of time to retrieve the ball (e.g. the ball rolled out onto the street or into the bushes by Robie St.) a penalty would have to be assessed, especially if the attempt could be construed as an attempt to run time off the clock towards the end of the game. A ball spiked at the feet of an opponent or official in an attempt to taunt would also be construed as an objectionable conduct. Similarly, a ball spiked or kicked in anger would also draw a flag.

As we head into the last week of the season, I hope everyone reading this takes time to reflect for a moment about 'on field' conduct and remembers that our league plays in a public place - where just about anyone, of any age, sex or creed can see/hear us play and each time that a player commits a Player Conduct Foul they not only belittle themselves, but also our League. As both a player and official I know that getting Conduct Foul is often met with anger and a 'who me'? or 'are you blind, ref'? attitude. Remember that we all sharing the Commons and our behavior as both players, teams and the League as a whole there should be appropriate for a public place. The MTFL should strive to promote sportsmanship and elevate the profile of touch football in the community, neither of which are accomplished by the actions that would draw a flag for a Conduct Foul.

REFEREE'S CORNER #5 (part 1) (09/30/2004)
Submitted by: Brian Nicholson

Objectionable Conduct and Other 'Naughty' Behavior (including Spiking the Ball)

Player conduct on the field is something that often doesn?t get paid a lot of attention, until of course a flag is thrown and then, everyone seems to notice and have lots of opinions of just what is or isn?t considered proper conduct.

This Officials Corner deals with player conduct; what defines it and what you can expect for such behavior. The following are excerpts from the Football Canada Rule Book (2003 edition- the most current one)

Rule 22?Player Conduct

Major Foul
22.1.1 A player or team member is not allowed to strike or trip an opponent or and official with the deliberate intent to cause bodily harm. Any other act of roughness or unfair play considered by the Referee to threaten the safety of any participant is not allowed.

22.1.2 Violation of these rules is a major foul (25 yard penalty) and the player or team member must be ejected from the game.

Personal Foul
22.2.1 Any act of roughness or unfair play that is committed by a player or team member, but is not considered by the Referee to be a major foul, is a personal foul. All players must attempt to control their momentum when approaching an opponent.

22.2.2 Violation of these rules is a personal foul penalty. Note: This includes acts as described in Regulation 22 (which include - rough touch, contacting the passer/kicker/tripping/piling on/charging and diving)

Objectionable Conduct
22.3.1 A player or team member is not allowed to use profane language, make verbal threats, or utter demeaning or intimidating remarks or actions to another player, team member, fan or official. Persistent arguments from any player are not allowed. A player is not allowed to deliberately delay the smooth operation of the game. A player is not allowed to fake an injury or loss of balance in obvious attempt to delay the game or cause a personal foul to be assessed against an opponent.

22.3.2 Violation of these rules is an objectionable conduct penalty. If the violation is considered by the Referee to be of a serious nature, the player or team member must be ejected from the game.

22.3.3 (Local MTFL Rule) A player who is assessed more than 1 objectionable conduct in a game will be immediately ejected from the game.

Player Ejection/Game Forfeit

22.4.1 An ejected player or team member must stay in the bench area and refrain from berating players, officials and fans. When an ejected player or team member violates these rules, that person must leave the park.

22.4.2 If the ejected individual does not leave the park within 3 minutes, or return to the park during the game, the Referee must award the game to the opponents.

22.4.3 The Referee must take an official?s time out while carrying out these procedures.

From the 1998-1999 Football Canada Touch Case Book:

pg. 62 Comment: The Touch Officials - Committee (TOC) has received reports of players who hold the ball backwards while scoring a touchdown and taunting their opponents by use of derogatory words and/or gestures. The TOC strongly disapproves of such conduct and urges officials to call an Objectionable Conduct penalty in such situations.

and Comment: Any player uttering racial and/or religious taunts or slurs directed against an opponent or and official whether on the field, bench area or sidelines, shall be penalized for objectionable conduct. There should be 'ZERO TOLERANCE' for racial abuse in the game of touch football. Officials should not hesitate to eject players from the game for such reprehensible conduct and league/tournament officials are urged to apply strict sanctions on players guilty of such gross misconduct.

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