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Five most recent articles:

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

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.

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