Football Rules for Referees

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A football referee is in charge of making sure that the rules of the game are enforced, whether they are positive or negative rules. Find out how referees enforce penalties on a football field with help from a head football coach in this free video on football rules.

Part of the Video Series: Football Tips & Equipment
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Video Transcript

Hi, this is Coach Jesse Shale from Miami, Florida. Let's talk about the rules for referees in football and what exactly does a referee do. Well, referee is in charge of making sure the rules of the game are followed and enforced; whether they are the positive rules or the negative rules; of things to do or things not to do. And that's what the referees job is. They're usually distinguished by their black and white mark shirts that they wear on the field. They're very obvious; in fact they're referred to in some circles as zebras because of the stripes that run down their shirt. So they're not hard to notice and that's on purpose. They also usually carry a yellow flag with them to indicate that a, a penalty has been incurred on a play. They also will have a bean bag sometimes as well for, as a backup flag or to mark whether or not a, a catch, where a catch was made or also they might use their hat in some instances to mark where a play is or to show that a penalty has been incurred in. At the NFL usually, they use seven referees; the referee, the umpire, the head linesman, the line judge, the side judge, the field judge and the back judge. That's a lot of positions. But football is a very complicated game and so there's a lot of things that do need to be supervised when the game is being played. At lower levels you might see six, five and even four man crews used for the same purposes. But certainly, the more eyes you have on the field, probably the better the officiating is going to be; at least you'd hope so. Basic rules for referee positions are as follows: the referee and the umpire basically in charge of the offensive line and the defensive line and any penalties that might happen there. The head linesman and the line judge usually have anything to do with off sides penalties or maybe somebody's crossing the line of scrimmage at a point where they shouldn't cross. Maybe if they're throwing the football. The field judge, the side judge and the back judge, they have to do with a lot of the passing situations; pass interference and making those calls in the sides of the field.


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