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Flag Football Rules

The following rules and regulations shall govern all teams playing under the jurisdiction of California State University, San Bernardino Department of Recreational Sports. Recreational Sports reserves the right to make rule modifications and/or other changes during the course of the league whenever it deems such action necessary and proper.

Number of Players

Each team must consist of seven players. If a team does not have seven players, they may start with six.

Rain-out Game Procedure

In the case of inclement weather jeopardizing game day both the home team and visiting team captains call the Recreation Center office by 12 noon on game day. The condition of the field will have been determined by that time.


  • Pants, shorts and sweat pants without pockets may be worn without belts and belt loops.
  • All players must wear a shirt. Shirts must be tucked in so flag belts are visible at all times.
  • Jewelry is not allowed - PERIOD! Placing tape over any type of jewelry on any part of the body is not allowed, as the jewelry is still present, and presents a safety concern to both the player wearing the jewelry as well as the opponent. The game will not begin until all jewelry is removed.  (If not removed before game time it will result in a 5 yard penalty)
  • All players must wear a closed toe athletic shoe.
  • Cleats may be worn, cleats must be made of non-metal material and not exceed 1/2 inch in length.
  • Hats are NOT permitted due to safety reasons.

Rules of Play

All play will be based on the NIRSA Flag Football Rules, with certain exceptions, as noted herein.


Sec. 1 The notification of the intent to protest must be made immediately before the ball is put into play, (the next snap from Scrimmage) or the play will no longer be protested.

  1. The captain of the protesting team should immediately notify the official(s) that the game is being continued under protest. Officials will notify the opposing team captain or manager.
  2. All interested parties shall take notice of the conditions surrounding the making of the decision that will aid in the correct determination of the issue.

Protest shall be handed in writing to the Recreation Office the next working day. Failure to do so will also negate the protest.

Time Outs / Clock

Two 1-minute time outs per team per half and are not cumulative. The clock will stop for:

  • Team time outs.
  • Official's time out (time starts on the whistle of the official).
  • Injuries necessitating time to remove a player from the field.
  • During the last two minutes of the second half.

Signed Waivers / Medical Insurance

Captains are responsible for making sure that each player signing the WAIVER FORMS understands and realizes that the Department of Recreational Sports DOES NOT PROVIDE insurance. In the event, a player is injured during the course of the season; he/she should have his/her own insurance.

Fumbles / Dead Ball / Interceptions

  • A ball is dead when: removal of a flag, out of bounds, a safety, a touchdown and ALL FUMBLES.
  • A live ball that hits the ground on any play is a DEAD BALL.
  • Any fumble occurring down field or past the line of scrimmage is dead where the player loses possession.
  • Any fumble behind the line of scrimmage or on the snap the ball is dead where it lands and may not be advanced. If the ball lands in the end zone, it is a safety.
  • When a pass, that is intercepted and is fumbled the ball remains with the intercepting team and is spotted where the player lost possession.
  • Interceptions may be returned if caught in the end zone. Also a defending team may intercept and return a 1 & 2 point conversion. The score would be the exact point value of the conversion try.

Players / Roster Size

Players may only play for one team during the season. Once a player has played on a team, they must play for that team the entire season. Rosters are required to be submitted into the Department of Recreational Sports by the Captains meeting. Teams may add players to their rosters up until the 3rd week of the season. ALL players must remain in their designated box at all times (from the 20-yd line to the 20-yd line).


  • Touchdown = 6 points
  • Point after = 1 point (from the 5 yard line run or pass)
  • Point after = 2 points (from the 10 yard line run or pass)
  • Safety = 2 points

Alcohol / Food / Drinks / Tobacco

Alcohol and tobacco products are prohibited for consumption or any other use by any participant on a flag football team. All players and participants are asked not to use any glass containers and to assist in keeping the fields and surrounding area clean by cleaning up after themselves. Any player(s) under the influence will be ejected.


The team that chooses to punt must announce their choice and the defensive team must have five players on the line of scrimmage. These five players may not cross the line of scrimmage. If the ball hits the ground during game time, it is dead. The punt may be returned so long as the receiver does not muff the ball or, the ball hits the ground first. In both cases the ball will be dead at the spot. * (Note that a team may throw the ball instead of kicking it during the punt)

Flag Belt Removal

  • Offensive players must have possession of the ball before they can legally be de-flagged.
  • Instances where a flag belt has been removed prior to the player advancing the ball, the ball carriers progress can be stopped by a two- handed tag between the shoulders and knees.
  • A flag belt, which becomes detached unintentionally, does not cause play to stop.
  • Circumstances where a flag belt is removed illegally, play will continue with the option of the penalty (12 yards) or the result of the play.
  • Tampering with the flag belt in any way including tying, using foreign materials, etc., will result in a 15-yard penalty from the Line of Scrimmage, loss of down, and player ejection.

Forfeit Fees

All teams that fail to show up for their games automatically forfeit the game.  Teams that do not inform the Intramural department at least one full day before their game that they are unable to attend will be assessed a forfeit fee.  Teams will not be allowed to play in the league until that fee has been paid.  Two forfeits from a team regardless if they are consecutive or not will result in that team being removed from the league.

Touchdown Verification

A player scoring a touchdown must immediately approach the official so the official can verify the flag belt is "legal". The official will pull the player's flag with one pull. If the flag cannot be removed and the official determines the flag belt has been illegally secured, the touchdown will be negated. The player will be ejected; a 15-yard penalty will be assessed from the previous line of scrimmage and a loss of down.

Field of Play

  • The winner of the coin toss will have the choice of possession or direction.
  • Punts (thrown or kicked) that go out of the end zone will be placed on the 20-yard line.
  • Punts that are fumbled are dead balls.
  • The center may snap the ball through his/her legs or stand beside the ball to snap it.
  • There must be a minimum of three players on the offensive line during each play before the snap.
  • All players are eligible to receive a pass.
  • There will be a 30 second play clock once the official spots the ball (places it on the ground).
  • A player with possession of the ball may NOT leave his/her feet for any reason to advance the ball (diving or hurdling).
  • The ball may be lateraled at anytime.
  • If an official blows his/her whistle inadvertently the play is DEAD and the down will be replayed or the team may take the result of the play.

Blocking / Contact

Offensive lineman must SCREEN defenders. Screening is done by placing your hands and arms either at your side or behind your back. Lineman can never pass the line of scrimmage to screen. All linemen screening must occur behind the line of scrimmage. NO DOWN FIELD SCREENING is permitted. Ball carriers may not run over or through defensive players. The defensive lineman must run around offensive lineman, NOT through them.


Any games that are tied at the end of regulation will have an "overtime" that consists of:

  • Each team has FOUR offensive plays from the 20-yd line to score one touchdown and a 1 or 2 point conversion.
  • An interception cannot be returned for a touchdown; possession goes to the intercepting team.
  • If no one scores within the four plays of overtime, the game will remain a tie.
  • Playoffs only, if no one scores after overtime, then each team will continue the overtime format from the 10-yd line until a winner is declared.

Mercy Rule

If a team is behind by 30 points at any portion of the game, the game will be terminated.

Length of Game

Games consist of two 20-minute halves with a 3-minute half time. The clock runs continuously until the final two minutes of the second half.

Designated Bench Zone/Bench Clearing

ALL players must remain in their designated box at all times (from the 20-yd line to the 20-yd line). If a team is caught outside of this area, a 5yard penalty may be assessed. Participants may only leave their bench / designated boxed area in the following instances:

  • To enter a game
  • At the conclusion of the game


Playoffs will be determined by various factors, including, but not limited to: number of rainouts, availability of teams to compete, and field availability. Teams with winning records will be eligible to play in the playoffs.


Only CURRENT students, staff, faculty, and alumni association members are eligible to participate. A student must have paid his/her fees, which include a portion that is directed toward the Department of Recreational Sports.

A player may play for only one team per league/per day. A player who has played on more than one team without explicit authorization will have all games they played in count as losses, including games played on for their "original team".

If any player is found ineligible for any reason all of the games that he/she has participated in will count as losses.

Teams who have players on their roster who have either been a member of a collegiate team or a professional team must get approval of Recreational Sports before the season begins.

Any team with two or more current or former collegiate and/or professional players, of the sport being played, on their rosters must advise the Department of Recreational Sports in advance and before the program begins. If this is not done, all games played with or without the current/former collegiate and or professional players will be considered losses. The intent of this rule is to make all other participants aware of the circumstances, and to make modifications (if necessary) for championship awards.


Every participant (faculty, staff and students) must provide evidence that they are members or have paid for a day pass.  All participants will be required to go to the gym and receive a wristband after passing through the turnstiles before their games. In an effort to simplify and make participation more accessible to all, the Intramural department of Recreational Sports requests that all team captains completes their rosters for each sport they are participating in (Names and Student ID number for each player) before the first week of contests. All players must also fill out a waiver form before they are allowed to play.


  • 5-yd: too many players on the field, offsides, delay of game, player with possession that dives, wearing jewelry
  • 10-yd: holding (spot of foul), down field blocking, flag guarding, tackling, offensive pass interference, hurdling
  • 15-yd: unnecessary roughness (possible ejection), unsportsmanlike conduct, defensive pass interference, and flag tampering
  • Loss of down: intentional grounding, illegal forward pass, and offensive pass interference
  • Automatic first down: defensive pass interference, roughing the passer