It's All About the Rules!

Flag Star Flag Rules

The BIG Stuff

  1. The goal of Flag Star Football is two-fold: Get Better. Have Fun. That’s not a rule, but always a good place to start.

  2. The biggest rule we have is ‘be a good sport.’ Or, framed differently, ‘don’t be a jerk.’ We’re here to play ball, not call personal fouls and litigate calls.

  3. THERE ARE GOING TO BE BAD CALLS! Inevitably, there will be calls that end drives, lose games or cost a team a championship. Terrible calls. Awful calls. Our referees are human -- allow them that humanity.

  4. If you argue from the sidelines or make a scene, you must volunteer referee a game before you’re welcome back on the field.

Logistics

Each game will consist of two twenty-minute halves. These halves have a running clock, except the final two minutes. The final two-minutes will be conducted with clock-stoppages in accordance with NFL rules. One referee will keep the official time.

Teams will each have one time-out per half.

Each team will have 30 seconds between plays before a “delay of game” penalty is called (although there will be a lenient window for the first couple weeks, as well as for younger age groups).

Teams start on their own 20 yard line. They have four downs to get to mid-field. Then four downs to get to the 20 yard line. Then four more to score. Each time a subsequent line is crossed, the team is awarded a first-down.

Flags must be worn above the player’s jersey. In the event a player’s flag falls off incidentally, the play continues until the ball-carrier is touched by the defense. There is no rule against wearing the same color flag as your jersey/shorts.

The defense is lined-up behind a five-yard buffer from the offense. They have a free rush as soon as the ball is snapped. If the ball is spotted near a first-down marker/goal-line, the defense will never be at more than a yard’s disadvantage. For example, if the offense is one yard from the first-down line, the defense is only set two-yards behind the other side of the line. This rule trumps the five-yard buffer rule.

The ball will be spotted where the player's flag is pulled. Not where he extends the ball. As such, there is no head-first diving for a marker. A player who attempts to dive will be whistled dead at the spot of his lunge.

After a score, the offensive team is given the option of going for one or two. If going for one, the team will start with the ball four yards away from the goal-line. For two points, the ball is placed eight yards from the goal-line. A defensive player may return an intercepted extra point attempt for two points (regardless of whether the offense attempted one or two points).

A coach may -- on offense or defense -- stand on the field, so long as he doesn’t get in the way of the play.

OFFENSE

Running Plays

After the ball is snapped, anyone on the offense may attempt a run. Runners must “pick a side” and are prohibited from intentionally running up the middle of the field. Running directly up the middle results in a loss of down. A “side” constitutes -- most generally -- an imaginary three-yard “tackle box.”

There remains gray area here and the decision is ultimately the referee’s. The runner must get three yards outside of the ball spot before crossing the line of scrimmage. If he gets three yards outside but is forced in by the action of the defense, he is then allowed to run up the middle.

Quarterbacks who are flushed up in the pocket must also make an attempt to run outside. In the case that a defensive end runs past them in their rush, the quarterback may step up in the pocket, but must then pick a side to commit to before advancing the ball.

Quarterbacks

For the K-1st grade and 2nd-3rd grade divisions, the coach plays quarterback. He does not count in the 7 vs 7 player participation. From 4th grade - up, the players are quarterback.

Linemen

There must be three men on the line of scrimmage for each play.  All players, however, are eligible. These “linemen” need not be within any certain distance of one-another.

Blocking

Offensive players are allowed to block. This is done by shuffling your feet -- much like a moving screen in basketball. Players are not allowed to use or extend their hands/arms when they block. As a good teaching point, blocking players’ elbows must be touching his/her torso, with their hands crossed.

Players may block on running or passing plays, but can not “drive block” (running forward into a defensive player). They can play the angles, but not push towards their opponent.

Similarly, because an offensive player can not use his hands or “drive block,” a defensive player can not defeat blocks with hand-violence or “bull rush” the offensive player.

There are no crack-blocks. On running plays, “picks” are acceptable, so long as the picking player is stationary and does not endanger the defensive player he is picking.

Illegal blocking is assessed as a loss of down and a five yard penalty from the spot of the foul.

Punting

On fourth down, teams may elect to “punt,” automatically starting the opposing team on the opposite 20 yard line.

Bad Snaps

We’re making a rule book to give the game structure, not to be militant about the experience. If a K-1 or a 2nd-3rd grade team (at-least for the first couple weeks) snaps the ball and it hits the ground (briefly), I’m okay with continuing the play.

If the ball is rolling around on the ground, the play should be called dead, but I give referee’s the opportunity to exercise discretion here. If the coach is looking to get an un-athletic 2nd-grader a chance to snap the ball, we can all take a breath and allow a certain level of error in that process.

In the event the play is called dead because of a bad snap, the ball is returned to the original line of scrimmage.

Diving

A player may not dive head-first to advance the spot of the ball. It is, however, acceptable to jump for balls, spin away from defenders and dive to pull another player’s flag.

DEFENSE

Rushing the Passer

Starting behind the five-yard buffer, defensive players have a free rush of the passer. Players may not “bull-rush” (or run directly into) the offensive player blocking them.

Bull-rushing will be assessed as a five-yard penalty and the offense replays the down.

Defensive offsides: A player gets a chance to get back before the snap. If still across the line of scrimmage at the snap, it is a free play for the offense, or a five yard penalty on the defense if the offense accepts the penalty.

Interceptions and Fumbles

There are no fumbles. A fumble immediately causes the end of the play and the offensive team retains possession.

Interceptions are live and may be returned.

Tackling

Most tackles that happen are incidental.  

If a defensive player tackles a ball-carrier within a reasonable degree of the flow of the game, he will be assessed a five yard penalty from the end of the play.  

If it is an egregious tackle, the player will be assessed a personal foul and removed from the game for three plays.  The offensive team will be given an automatic first down after the five-yard penalty.

Personal Fouls

A referee, at all times, has the right to issue a personal foul penalty. A personal foul is an automatic first-down after the five-yard penalty and the offending player is removed from the game for three plays,

Note: These should almost NEVER be called. A personal foul is the “nuclear option” in this league.

Overtime

In the event of overtime, each time will be given a possession from the 20 yard line (facing in). They will have four downs to score. The teams can then go for one or two on the extra point.

In the event of a double-overtime, the scoring team must attempt a two-point conversion.

In the event of a triple-overtime, each team will be given a single play from the 10 yard line. If they score, they will then attempt a two-point conversion. Teams will be given a single-play attempt again in fourth overtime, after which the game will be announced a draw.

Lastly

There is no complaining to the referees!

Problems should be brought directly to the commissioner, Carl Ehrlich.