BMFL OFFICIAL RULEBOOK 1.4
Section 1: General Rules Summary
One team will be designated on the schedule as the "home" team for each game. The game is played by two teams of eight (8) players each. Each team may field a maximum of five (5) male players, and a minimum of three (3) female players each. Teams are allowed to pick up players from other teams, but will be penalized six (6) points for each added player. However, players may not be picked up for the playoffs. The length of the game is forty (40) minutes, divided into two halves of twenty (20) minutes each. Each team will be given three (3) time outs per game, lasting thirty (30) seconds each. The clock runs continuously in the first half, stopping only in the event of a team or official timeout. In the second half, the clock will stop with two minutes remaining (“two minute warning”). Inside two minutes in the second half, the clock will also stop upon: an incomplete pass, a player stepping out of bounds with possession of the football, a touchdown, change of possession, and certain penalties as outlined below, in the section entitled “Game Timing.” In the event that the score is tied at the end of the second half, the game will proceed as detailed below, in the section entitled “Overtime.” Each touchdown is worth six (6) points. Following any touchdown, the scoring team must attempt either a one (1) or two (2) point conversion. This is a non-contact league. Blocking and/or tackling of any type is illegal and shall be subject to penalty as outlined below, in the section entitled “Penalties.” On offense, teams must utilize a female player at least once within 3 consecutive downs. For the purposes of this section, "utilize" shall mean that a female player shall a) be the target of a forward pass in the judgment and discretion of the officials; b) catch a forward pass; c) attempt a forward pass; d) run beyond the line of scrimmage with possession of the football; e) make a genuine attempt to run beyond the line of scrimmage with possession of the football; or f) be sacked with possession of the football. (NOTE: A sack of a male player on a mandatory female play will not count as a successful female play. Instead, the ball will be placed at the spot of the sack, and the next down will again be a mandatory female play. This is a rule change from previous seasons.) First downs shall be marked every ten yards. The offense must meet or cross the first down marker to earn a new set of downs. Once a marker has been earned, it cannot be earned again. That is, in the event of a penalty, sack, or other loss of field position by the offense, they cannot gain a first down by crossing a yard marker they had previously crossed on the same drive. Five Mississippi rush count (“Mississippi” is the only rush word allowed). Teams provide one (1) volunteer referee for the game that precedes or follows their game as delineated in the schedule provided to all players at the beginning of the season. That referee is expected to be familiar with the rules and to provide their undivided attention to their volunteer referee duties during that game period. Teams failing to provide knowledgeable or attentive referees will be penalized at the league's discretion. At the scheduled game time, any team that cannot field at least five (5) players total, including a minimum of one (1) female player will incur a forfeit. Games will start promptly at their scheduled time. Except for the presence of dangerous conditions, as determined at the league's discretion, all games will be played regardless of weather conditions.
Section 2: Pre-Game
Every player must check-in with the statistician prior to entering the game as an eligible offensive or defensive player. Any volunteer referee must check in with the head referee prior to beginning their refereeing duties. Every player is required to come prepared with their league issued and numbered jersey, or a numbered jersey of their own choosing that has been pre-approved by the league office. No player will be allowed to take the field unless they have signed a BMFL waiver.
Section 3: Volunteer Referees
BMFL will provide a head referee for each game. Each team is responsible to provide a volunteer referee for the game that either precedes or follows their game, as indicated on the season schedule. The duties of the volunteer referees will be in the discretion of the head referee, but may include the following: play clock, game clock, reporting time outs when called, calling flag pulls, reporting penalties to the head referee, and making all calls relevant to their positioning on the field and requested by the head referee. Teams failing to provide a volunteer referee at game time will incur a penalty, according to the following schedule: First offense: Team will start next game down 6-0 Second offense: Team automatically gets a loss added to their record Third offense: Team loses playoff eligibility Playoff offense: Team will start their next game down 14-0
Section 4: Beginning the Game
Opening possession will be determined by a coin toss, administered by the head referee. The “visiting” team shall call heads or tails. The winning captain may choose: the opportunity to start on offense or defense; or, the goal they wish to defend in the first half Teams will switch end zones at the half, and the team that started on offense and the beginning of the first half shall be on defense at the beginning of the second half, and vice versa. There is no option to defer to the second half. Each half starts with the “receiving” team in possession on its own 10-yard line.
Section 5: Game Timing
The game will consist of two halves of twenty (20) minutes each. Halftime will be three (3) minutes in duration. Game clock will stop only upon a called time out (referee's, injury, or team), before the 2 minute warning of the second half, or, if there are fewer than two minutes remaining in the second half and the point differential is less than 17 points, upon any of the following occurrences: An incomplete pass. An offensive player goes out-of-bounds with possession of the football. A touchdown. The clock starts again for the extra point and then stops after this play is completed. The clock cannot run for more than 10 seconds on extra points. Any turnover (interception, change of possession on downs, or after a punt). Any penalty through which the referee determines the penalized team would benefit from the clock running.
Section 6: Uniform Regulations
Jerseys are provided by the BMFL. If a player does not have a jersey for a given week, they may wear a shirt substantially similar to their team color and the league will provide tape on the field to tape a number to the back of that shirt. Cleats or sneakers must be worn on the field. Other footwear, including but not limited to dress shoes, sandals, flip flops, and metal cleats are not allowed.
Section 7: Scoring
Touchdowns are worth six (6) points. Following a touchdown, the scoring team may elect to attempt either a one (1) point or two (2) point conversion. For a one point conversion, the ball will be placed at the 2 yards from the goal line. For a two point conversion, the ball will be placed 5 yards from the goal line. In both cases, the point(s) will be awarded if the attempting team successfully scores the ball in the end zone. For two point conversions only, the ball is considered live if turned over, and can be returned by the defense to the opposite end zone for two points. Safeties are worth 2 points.
Subsection 7.1: Safeties
A safety will be scored when a player: Has his/her flag pulled with the ball in their own end zone while attempting to advance the ball on offense -- i.e., not after having just made an interception or receiving a punt Advances the ball out of their end zone and runs back in on a punt or intercepted pass and is tagged down Runs out of bounds in their own end zone while in possession of the ball Snaps the ball out of the back or side of the end zone Fumbles in their own end zone Commits a penalty in his/her own end zone while in possession of the ball -- e.g., a player committing flag guarding or intentional grounding in their own end zone When a safety occurs, the defensive team receives two (2) points and takes possession of the ball 5 steps from their own goal line.
Section 8: First Downs
Each team will have 4 downs to either score or earn a first down. First downs are earned by crossing the marked yard line. Teams may earn each marked first down only once. If a team fails to score or earn a first down on four consecutive downs, possession goes to the other team. Offensive team may elect to punt on any down.
Section 9: Beginning Possession
When taking possession of the football at the beginning of the game, the beginning of a half, following a touchdown and conversion, following a touchback, or following a safety, the team offense will be given possession of the football 5 steps from their own goal line.
Subsection 9.1 Snapping Ball must always be snapped from the ground by the center to the quarterback. No player shall put the ball in play until it is declared ready-for-play by the head referee. The offensive team has 20 seconds to snap the football after it is spotted by the referee. Centers may adjust the ball, including picking it up to reposition it, before each play so long as that player does not do so with the intent to draw the defense off sides, and does change the offense's field position. All offensive players must be within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage when it is snapped and be set for one full second before ball is snapped. Only 3 offensive players are permitted in the backfield, the rest (5 players if 8 on the field) must be lined up on the line of scrimmage. Once the offense has come set, only one player at a time is permitted to go in motion prior to the snap, and that player must be set before any other player goes in motion or before the snap occurs to avoid a penalty for a false start. After the snap, the center may move back and forth laterally along the line of scrimmage until the pass rusher counts to “four Mississippi.” After that, the center may not move and must have his/her arms at their side. The center may never intentionally attempt to block, trip or physically interfere with a defensive player rushing the quarterback. The center may not leave the line of scrimmage at any point and is not an eligible receiver.
Exceptions: in the event of a tipped pass, the center may attempt to field and advance the ball, and in the event of a turnover, the center effectively becomes a defender and is free to move in pursuit of the ballcarrier. If the ball hits the ground after the snap and before the quarterback has possession, it is treated as a fumble and is dead immediately at the spot where it hit the ground. The ball will be spotted at this new line of scrimmage.
Section 10: Contact Rules
BMFL is a non-contact league. Players are responsible for playing in control and conduct themselves in a safe manner at all times on the field. Blocking, tackling, jamming, stiff arms, and all other forms of intentional contact are prohibited. Players committing these actions will be assessed a penalty, as outlined in the section below, entitled “Penalties.” Blocking is defined as intentional movement that impedes a defensive player’s pursuit of the ball carrier, unless such movement is to avoid personal injury. This also includes the deliberate movement of limbs by a stationary player. A player may, however, use his body to shield another player by having their arms by their sides or behind their back, if that player is not moving or is giving ground. However, that player may not initiate contact. An offensive pick occurs when a receiver impedes the progress of a defensive back without making a genuine effort to run a route. Offensive picks are illegal and will be penalized as detailed in the section below, entitled “Penalties.”
Section 11: Rushing the Passer
Each team fielding a full complement of players (i.e., 8) on defense must designate at least one player to act as the pass rusher. That player must remain within two (2) yards of the defense's side of line of scrimmage until a pass has been attempted or the quarterback crosses the line of scrimmage. That player is the only one that may count to five Mississippi to begin the pass rush. Defensive players may not pursue the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage until the pass rusher completes a "five Mississippi" count. The pass rusher may begin counting as soon as the ball is snapped. All four syllables (miss-iss-ipp-i) of the word "Mississippi" must be clearly and loudly enunciated. In no event shall the pass rusher be eligible to cross the line of scrimmage in fewer than three (3) game seconds. Doing so will incur a penalty as described in the section below, entitled “Penalties.” The quarterback may not cross the line of scrimmage unless and until a defensive player crosses the line following a five Mississippi count. After the pass rusher completes the five Mississippi count, the defense may send any number of players to rush the quarterback. If the ball changes carriers in the backfield (i.e., is handed off, a lateral occurs, or a pass behind the line of scrimmage occurs), the defense may rush immediately.
Section 12: Penalties Subsection 12.1: General Penalties
Too many players on the field - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on any team that: has more than eight total players on the field at the snap; or has more than five male players on the field at the snap; or does not have a female player on the field at the snap.
Delay of game - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on any team that: does not snap the football prior to the 20 second play clock reaching zero; or intentionally delays the continued progress of the game. For example, throwing the football away from the offense after a completed play, or the offense failing to retrieve the football in a timely manner following a completed play.
llegal forward pass - A 5 yard penalty and a loss of the down will be assessed on any team that intentionally throws the ball forward after: crossing the line of scrimmage; or having already attempted a legal forward pass; or returning a punt or interception.
Illegal timeout - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on any team that calls a timeout if they have already used their full complement of timeouts.
Blocking - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on any team that intentionally creates contact to prevent another player from pursuing the ball carrier. (For further discussion of blocking, see Section 10, above.)
Flag guarding - A 5 yard penalty from the spot of the foul will be assessed if: any player intentionally blocks another player from pulling his or her flag. This penalty will not apply to standard football moves such as jukes, spins, or jumps.
Diving - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed from the spot of the foul if a player with possession of the football intentionally dives in an attempt to gain extra yardage.
Unnecessary roughness - A 15 yard penalty will be assessed, and a first down shall be awarded (if on the defense) or the down shall be replayed (if on the offense) on any team that intentionally or recklessly takes an action (or fails to take an action) in a manner that creates the likelihood of injury to another player. In addition, any player that is called for unnecessary roughness shall be given a warning. If a second such penalty is called on that player, they will be ejected from the game.
Unsportsmanlike conduct - A 15 yard penalty will be assessed if, in the judgment of league officials, any player's actions (or failure to act) is in direct violation of the spirit of the game. Such actions or inactions include but are in no way limited to: attempting to use banned substances or equipment (stickum, metal cleats, tape on a flag), the use of abusive or insulting language to another player or referee, or any harassment of another player. In addition, any player that is called for unsportsmanlike conduct shall be given a warning. If a second such penalty is called on that player, they will be ejected from the game.
Subsection 12.2: Defensive Penalties
Illegal Strip - A 5 yard penalty for an illegal strip will be assessed on the defense if any defender either intentionally strips a ballcarrier of possession of the football, or does so without making a genuine attempt to pull that player's flags.
Offsides - A 5 yard penalty for offsides will be assessed on the defense if any part of a defensive player's body is on the offense's side of the line of scrimmage at the snap of the football.
Illegal rush - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on the defense and the down will be replayed if: the five Mississippi count is made too quickly or inaudibly to the referee; or a defensive player crosses the line of scrimmage prior to a change of ball carrier or a completion of the five Mississippi count; or the pass rusher goes beyond two yards from the line of scrimmage prior to a pass attempt or the quarterback crossing the line of scrimmage; or the defense fails to leave a pass rusher within two yards of the line of scrimmage.
Holding - A 5 yard penalty for holding will be assessed on the defense and the offense will receive an automatic first down if: prior to an attempted pass, a defensive player grabs or holds an offensive player, including the player's jersey, flag belt, hair, or other appendage; and a 5 yard penalty will be assessed on the defense but the offense will not receive an automatic first down if: subsequent to an offensive player acquiring possession of the ball, including by a completed pass or a handoff, a defensive player grabs or holds the offensive player, including the offensive player's jersey, flag belt, hair, or other appendage without making a genuine attempt to pull the offensive player's flag; or the defender holds the offensive player while making a genuine attempt to pull their flag, and does not release the offensive player within a reasonable time after realizing that they have failed to grasp the offensive player's flag. In this case, the five yards shall be marked from the spot of the foul.
Illegal contact - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on the defense and the offense will receive an automatic first down if prior to an attempted pass, a defensive player creates contact that redirects, restricts, or impedes the progress of an eligible receiver. However, a defender has the same right to space that a wide receiver does -- the defender must initiate the contact through action, they are not required to move out of a wide receiver's path if they remain stationary.
Defensive pass interference - A spot foul for defensive pass interference will be assessed on the defense and the offense will receive an automatic first down if the defensive player significantly hinders the progress of the eligible player and/or of such player’s opportunity to catch the ball. However, purely incidental and unintentional contact made while the defensive player is in the process of making a genuine attempt to play the football shall not constitute defensive pass interference. Nor shall pass interference apply on any play during which: the pass is tipped prior to contact with the eligible receiver; or the offensive player failed to look back for the football; or the pass was deemed to be 'uncatchable'.
Subsection 12.3: Offensive Penalties
Ineligible receiver - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on the offense and the down shall be lost if: the center leaves the line of scrimmage prior to a completed pass; or the center catches a pass that has not been tipped.
Female play violation - The previous play shall be nullified and a female play violation will be assessed on the offense and the down shall be lost, though the subsequent play will remain a female play, if on a designated female play, the offense fails to utilize a female player as defined in the general rules section. If a male quarterback is sacked on a female play, the subsequent play will again be designated as a female play.
Illegal forward pass/quarterback run - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on the offense and the down shall be lost if the quarterback: crosses the line of scrimmage and then throws a forward pass; or attempts a forward pass more than once during a single play; or crosses the line of scrimmage prior to the defense crossing the line of scrimmage.
False start - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on the offense if the ball has been placed ready for play, and, prior to the snap, an offensive player who has assumed a set position makes a sudden movement which crosses the line of scrimmage.
Holding - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on the offense if an offensive player grabs or holds a defensive player, including the player's jersey, flag belt, hair, or other appendage. Offensive holding that occurs in the end zone results in a safety for the defense.
Offensive pass interference - A 5 yard penalty for offensive pass interference will be assessed on the offense and the down shall be lost if the offensive player significantly hinders the progress of the defensive player and/or of such player’s opportunity to catch the ball. However, purely incidental and unintentional contact made while the offensive player is in the process of making a genuine attempt to catch the football shall not constitute offensive pass interference. Nor shall pass interference apply on any play during which: the pass is tipped prior to contact with the eligible receiver; or the defensive player failed to look back for the football; or the pass was deemed to be 'uncatchable'.
Intentional grounding - A 5 yard penalty for intentional grounding will be assessed on the offense and the down shall be lost if the quarterback throws the ball in an area where there is no eligible receiver and the quarterback remains directly behind the center. A ball thrown out of bounds will not result in a penalty for intentional grounding, unless the ball fails to cross the line of scrimmage.
Illegal pick - A 5 yard penalty will be assessed on the offense and the down shall be lost if an offensive player initiates contact to impede, redirect, or inhibit a defender without making a genuine effort to run a route.
Section 13: After the Snap
Once the ball is put in play by the offense, play shall continue until: at least one of the ball carrier's flags have been pulled out of their belt; or the ball carrier touches the out of bounds line or beyond with any part of his/her body; or the ball breaks the plane of the goal line for a touchdown or conversion while a player is in possession of the ball; or the ball touches the ground as a result of a fumble, punt or incomplete pass; or any part of the ball carrier's body other than hands or feet touches the ground.
Subsection 13.1: Passing
A pass is complete when it is possessed by the receiving player with at least one foot in bounds, and that player either: possesses the football to the ground; or makes a "football move". A common example of a "football move" is for the receiver to take two steps with possession of the football. A catch that is made with simultaneous possession by both the offensive and defensive players shall be awarded to the offense. A player that has gone out of bounds and comes back in bounds may not be the first person to touch the ball upon re-entering the playing field. This will be ruled an incomplete pass. A deflected ball caught by the center may be advanced legally. Following an incomplete forward pass, the ball is returned to the previous spot and a new down begins. If a lateral or backward pass is incomplete, it is a dead fumble. The ball will be spotted where it hit the ground in preparation for a new down.
Subsection 13.2: Handoffs
Handoffs are permitted. When this change of ball carrier occurs, the defense may cross the line of scrimmage immediately, with no further counting necessary.
Subsection 13.3: Punting
The offensive team must declare their intention to punt. All punts are “free” punts meaning a team does not need to snap during a punt. However, a dropped snap during a punt remains a fumble. Once a team declares to the referee its intention to punt, that declaration is final. It cannot be revoked and that team must punt the football. Fake punts are not permitted. The punting team must kick the ball down the field, they cannot throw it. All punts are considered “open” plays, and are exempt from all rules governing mandatory female plays. The punting team may not cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked. The receiving team may not make any efforts to block the punt attempt. The instant that a member of the receiving team has taken possession of the ball, all other members of the receiving team must hold their current positions on the field. Any deliberate movements away from their set spot, other than to avoid personal injury, will be considered blocking. If a punt is caught it is a live ball and is returnable. If the ball comes into contact with the ground after it has been punted it is a dead ball, spotted at the point where it hit the ground, and may not be returned. It will be deemed a touchback and the ball shall be spotted at the receiving team's 10 yard line if: the ball is punted into the end zone; or a player drops the ball in the end zone before he has crossed the plane of the goal line and he took possession of the ball inside the end zone.
Subsection 13.4: Fumbles
A fumble is not live; it is a dead ball at the spot where the football contacts the ground. However, if a player on either team takes possession of the ball prior to it hitting the ground, possession goes to that team and that player may attempt to advance the ball towards his/her own end zone. A ball can never be advanced by fumble without a player taking possession of it. If a ball is fumbled forward, it will instead be placed where the possessing player lost possession of the ball. Attempts to strip the ball from the possession of the ball carrier are invalid. There is no intentional stripping of the football. All defenders must make a genuine attempt to pull the ballcarrier's flags. Intentionally stripping the ball is a penalty as outlined above. If a ball is stripped by incidental contact, then it is considered dead at the spot of the strip. Exception: if the incidentally stripped ball is caught by another player (whether it be an offensive player or a defensive player) prior to it contacting the ground, it may be advanced legally as if the ball was caught as a reception or an interception.
Subsection 13.5: Interceptions
An interception occurs when a defensive player catches an attempted pass from the quarterback and an offensive player does not simultaneously do the same. Interceptions of forward passes may be advanced by the defense. Section 13.6: Laterals A lateral is a throw of the ball to a member of the same team that travels laterally or backwards. If the lateral is behind the line of scrimmage, the player who formerly had possession of the ball may go downfield and be considered a receiver.
Section 14: Substitutions
A team is permitted to substitute players before each play. Players must be set and on the field for one full second prior to the snap, however. Teams may not have more than 8 players in the huddle.
Section 15: Inadvertent Whistle
If a referee inadvertently sounds his/her whistle during a play, the play is immediately dead. If during a run, it is the offensive team’s ball at the spot of the ball at the time of the whistle. If a legal pass or snap is in flight, has not been thrown yet, or during a punt, the down will be replayed.
Section 16: Premature Flag
Pull If a player's flag is pulled prior to possessing the football, that player is not down and the play will remain live. Instead, the player will be considered down and the play blown dead when that player is tagged with at least one hand by a defender.
Section 17: Overtime
In the event of a tie score at the end of regulation time, the game will go to overtime. Overtime will be un-timed, and begin with a coin toss with the winning team deciding to take the first possession or the second possession. All gender rules apply in overtime periods. Teams will then alternate attempts to score in the same end zone from the 20 yard line. Each team will get four downs to score. If a team scores, they will have the opportunity to go for 1 or 2 on the PAT. If the scoring team possessed the ball first, the other team will then get a chance to tie or take the lead. If the scoring team takes the lead and went second, the game is over. An interception will result in a team losing its possession. The interception will be a dead ball and may not be returned, however. No 1st downs will be awarded except in the case of a penalty.
Section 18: Standings
In the event of a tie in the standings at the end of the season, the following tiebreakers will be consulted in order: Head to Head Record; Point Differential; Record Against Common Opponents; Number of Forfeits; Coin Flip.
Section 19: Weather Policy
The BMFL will play any games in which the weather conditions do not create a dangerous field condition, rain or shine. If a game is called (due to weather or injury) we will make best efforts to reschedule that game and complete it from the time of the stoppage. If this proves impossible, however, and the game's first half was completed, the game score will be final.
Heavyweight/Bantamweight QB Rule
No player may play quarterback for a Bantamweight team and a Heavyweight team within the same season, even as a backup or substitute. However, once per team per season, and only in the event of a season-ending injury to the starting quarterback, one player per team may switch their designation of ‘heavyweight only quarterback’ or ‘bantamweight only quarterback’ to start in place for that injured starting quarterback for the remainder of that season. Once a designation has been changed, it cannot be reversed again during that season. The new designation is that quarterback’s final designation for that season. In addition, the quarterback that has changed designation must start two full games at quarterback for the team he or she is now quarterbacking for in order to be eligible to start a playoff game for that team, provided there are 2 or more games remaining in the regular season. The exception to the QB rule is only in the event of a season-ending injury and does not cover the occasional game absence or tardiness. The rule does not restrict female QBs. All Sunday Elite teams should declare their starting and backup QBs before the start of the season by simply emailing the league office @ firstname.lastname@example.org
*The rule has been clarified to ensure the difference from Heavyweight to Bantamweight. A team is always free to use a QB who is not currently playing QB on a Sunday Elite team.