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Articles from 2006:

Minor officials (part 2) (08/26/2006)
Submitted by: Brian Nicholson

3) Minor officials have equal jurisdiction in calling plays/infractions. A common misconception brought to games by minor officials is this- "I am a Minor Official, therefore I can't call pass interference." Untrue! Often, the Head Linesman is downfield and the only one in position to make the call. Remember, you as the minor official can always throw the flag, discuss the situation (what you saw/heard) with the Referee, and pick up the flag later if there was no infraction after conferring with the referee.

4) Minor officials should know their jobs. Being alert can't be taught, but knowing where you should be and what you are to look for certainly can. I would refer players to review Referee's Corner #1. This ancient text contains all the pertinent information with regards to the jobs of each minor official. If you remain unsure at game time, confer with your Referee as to your appointed duties. While Minor Officials are not required to know the Rule Book 'word for word', knowledge of the Rules of Touch Football and playing experience help. Copies of the Rule Book are available from the League for each team at no cost.

5) The conduct of Minor Officials is subject to review by the Discipline Committee. If the Referee feels that one or both Minor Officials is not performing to their expected capacity, the team that the Minor Officials play for can be subject to Demerit. If the quality of a job is such a poor nature or quality (this includes showing up intoxicated) the league may assess Demerits to the team equal in penalty to as if the Minor Official was/were not present. Officials should not tolerate threats, slurs, or any form of verbal abuse from players or their respective bench areas. Objectionable Conduct penalties and/or ejection can result from such infractions. It is also of note that Minor Officials should themselves refrain from abusing players, be it verbal, physical or by gesture (other than throwing a flag). Again, if the actions of a Minor Official warrant investigation by the Discipline Committee, Demerits and suspensions can be assessed to teams or players due to their actions when they were Minor Officials.

Did I rattle on too long? Probably, 'cause it is in two parts. But I hope that all of the players, especially those who are scheduled/roped into/required to do Minor Official Duties will take time to reflect on these words. Officiating can be a thankless job, but when done well makes a great game even better! Now get out there and enjoy the crisp fall air and football!

Brian Nicholson
Chair of Discipline Committee

Minor Officials (Part 1) (08/26/2006)
Submitted by: Brian Nicholson

Minor Officials-The importance of being a good minor official

As the 2006 season draws to a close, I felt it would be appropriate to comment on the role of a Minor Official to the game of Touch Football. In the last few weeks there had been issues with conduct of players, fans and/or coaches which prompted several rulings by the Discipline Committee. Although no official deserves to be verbally or physically abused at a game or afterwards, it is important to stress that officials often are the subject of such abuse when there is a perception of inattention on the part of the official towards the game at hand. All officials must attempt "to do their best" whether they be minor officials or the head referee. Below are some pointers for officials that I have compiled after "seeing it all" during my short time as a referee in the MTFL (~8 years for those of you counting)-

1) Minor Officials (and the head referee too) should be attentive to the game. This sounds like a ridiculous comment to make, but I have seen minor officials on the sidelines talking on cell phones, smoking or drinking beer with the rest of their team. No one doing any of these things is giving their full concentration to the game. Players may complain bitterly about getting stuck with a line duty. But remember that all teams do an equal share of the line duties. If you are a minor official do your job as you would want someone else to do your game

2) Minor Officials (and the head referee too) should be appropriately dressed. This also sounds like a ridiculous comment, but consider this: Would you play a game of touch football in flip-flops? I have seen many minor officials show up in flip-flops and am left to ponder-if I was chasing or being chased down the field at full speed, would a Head Linesman trailing the play be able to keep up and look for a tag? The key to making a good call is being in good position. This also could be directed to Referees who may have appropriate footwear on their feet but feel content to stay rooted to one spot during a play. They will be woefully out of position almost all of the time and their calls will reflect this. Back Judges must be ready to scramble and move with the QB to look for the point at which they released the ball (were they over the Line of Scrimmage or not?)


Conduct on and off the Field (07/31/2006)
Submitted by: Brian Nicholson

July 31 2006


With a little more than half of the season left there have been a number of issues with regard to conduct on or at the fields that have been brought to the attention of the Discipline Committee and the Executive of the League that have to be addressed.

Conduct on the field: As per Rule 22.3.1 regarding objectionable conduct - "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."
All players and members of the bench must be accountable for their actions and further the Case Book for the rules states "any player uttering racial and/or religious taunts or slurs shall be penalized for objectionable conduct." The Executive has also interpreted that this includes derogatory comments made with regard to another players' professional occupation.
Remember that we, as a League, are playing our games on a public place. Acts such as ones that have occurred belittle our League and detract from it. Many players bring their young children as spectators and players should conduct themselves with this in mind.

Conduct towards officials: Officials are an important and necessary part of organized sport. They are present to ensure the game is played by the rules, flows smoothly, enforce infractions and ensure player safety. Berating officials during or after a game is not allowed and may be subject to penalty or suspension depending on the nature, timing and severity of the objectionable conduct demonstrated. Please remember that officials often have to make subjective calls and may not have witnessed the play as you have seen it. There will always be difference of opinion with regard to 'just how hard' a rough tag was or whether there was or wasn't pass interference.

Fouls on the last play of a game: There have been several instances in the past few seasons where rough plays or objectionable conduct has occurred during or after the last play of a game. These penalties are often un-enforceable. How does one eject a player or enforce a rough play penalty when the game is over? Players should be aware that the Executive will be monitoring the game reports and officials will be recording objectionable conduct fouls on game sheets. Those occurring at the end of the game or afterward may result in suspensions of players for subsequent games. Rulings will be made by the Discipline Committee on a case by case basis. This policy is being instituted to ensure that players remain accountable for their actions on and off the field. Player safety is paramount and when players feel they have a 'free shot' at the end of the game because they cannot be penalized, the potential for injury, retaliation and violence escalates.

Please remember that one of the League's mandates is to promote the game of Touch Football. This sport is emotional, of that there is no doubt; to celebrate and feel some frustration or anger as part of the game are natural and to be expected. Remember, this is just a game, played primarily for fun, camaraderie and sportsmanship. When taken to extremes, emotions can turn from positives into negatives when directed inappropriately at other players, team mates, fans or officials. The misbehavior of a few individuals in the League detract from it and make it difficult for everyone, players, officials, spectators and fans to enjoy the great game that we all know Touch Football is.

Brian Nicholson
MTFL Discipline Committee Chair

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