Flag Football Rules


Participants should participate with the understanding that injuries do occur & realize that taking part in the Intramural Program is completely voluntary. Therefore, Northern Michigan University is not responsible for injuries happening during play.




Students must purchase a student recreation pass to be eligible to participate.  You must show the Intramural staff your I.D. in order to participate.  Faculty/Staff and Community Recreation members must purchase a recreation membership in order to participate in I.M.’s.  Community members must be 16 years of age. Students who are found to be participating without a current rec pass will be automatically charged the semester rate of $70.00 to their student account.



The intramural manager’s meeting information will be sent to all team managers.  It is the managers responsibility to read all information and pass on to their team.  Manager meeting information will be sent out the day after the deadline.  There is not a mandatory meeting for team managers. 



Your team schedule will be sent to the team manager the Friday after the deadline date.  Play could begin as early as the following Monday.  It is the responsibility of each of the team managers to check their e-mail on a regular basis for team schedules and updates.  The Intramural Office will not call team managers to notify them of their team’s first game.  It is the responsibility of the team manager to inform their team of the game dates and times. 



Teams are expected to begin play on time.  A team has 10 minutes to arrive after the clock begins.  When a team is late, the team that was on-time will be awarded 7 points.  The on-time team will get an additional 7 points every 5 minutes the opposing team is late until a forfeit occurs.  If the team is more than 10 minutes late, a forfeit will be declared, and a $25.00 fee will be charged to the team manager’s student account. Teams who forfeit during the course of the regular season may not be eligible for tournament play.  Teams who forfeit twice will be dropped from further competition and be charged a total of $50.00. You may call the intramural office at 227-1692 at least 48 hours prior to your game time in order to avoid the late fee.  Make sure to leave your team name, game time, and league.



  • All protests must be filed by the team manager at the time the question occurs.

  •  Protests concerning rule interpretations will be settled at the game site by the officials, or the sport supervisor. 

  • If a team manager believes the decisions rendered to be in error, he/she must notify the officials and supervisors that the contest will continue under protest.

  • A written protest and a $5.00 protest fee must be submitted to the Rec Sports office (PEIF 126) by noon the following day.  The fee will be returned if the protest is upheld.

  • A matter involving the official’s judgment is not subject to protest.

  • A protest concerning a player’s eligibility can be made before, during, or after a contest.

1.      If an eligibility question is before or during a contest, the player and team manager will be notified and given the choice of whether or not the player will play.

2.      If the player chooses to play and is found ineligible, the contest will be forfeited and that player suspended from further participation for that sport’s season.

3.      If the player leaves the contest and is found to be ineligible, the contest may be subject to review by the Intramural Sports Coordinator.

4.      A protest regarding the eligibility of players must be made before either team plays its next scheduled game.

5.      Eligibility questions after contest will be investigated by the Intramural Sports Coordinator.  Participants found ineligible will be penalized accordingly.



Varsity athletes may participate in those intramural sports which are not sports that they represent at N.M.U.  However, no more than one-half the number of players allowed on the court or field at one time shall be varsity athletes.  For football, seven (7) players participate at one time, so only three (3) varsity athletes may be on the field at any one time from each team.  Varsity athletes are eligible to play, provided they are not: a varsity football player, a current red-shirt, a practice player, a varsity football letter winner who has not sat out for one calendar year.
For Men's Class A and B, you can only have two players the same on your roster.  If we identify that more than two people are playing on a team for Class A and Class B Men's Flag Football then we will need to drop one of the teams.



The referee shall inspect and approve all equipment.  He/she shall not permit any player to wear equipment which in his/her judgment is dangerous to other players.  Elbow, hand, finger, wrist, or arm guard, cast, or brace made of any hard substance even though covered with soft padding shall always be declared illegal.


Shoes must be worn by all players.  A multi-purpose shoe is recommended.  No cleated shoes allowed.  Basketball, tennis, and turf shoes are permitted. 


NO hard, unyielding equipment such as shoulder pads, head guards, casts, etc. may be worn.

All jewelry must be taken off or taped prior to game time.


Balls and pinnies will be furnished by the Intramural Department.  The game ball will not be used for pre-game warm-up.  Each team manager will be held responsible for any of the above equipment damaged or not returned.


A regulation football, flags, flag belts, and pinnies will be provided by the Intramural program.  A junior size ball will be used for women and co-rec games.


Mouthpieces are highly recommended!!


The following shall be considered examples of illegal equipment, and cannot be worn:

  1. Hats
  2. Shin guards
  3. Jewelry – e.g., rings, watches, necklaces, earrings, etc.
  4. Face or spectacle guards, helmets or hard material
  5. Knee, head, thigh, or hip pads
  6. Cast of any type
  7. Cleats
  8. Players shall not have any foreign objects in their mouths


These rules will not be waived!  If a player is wearing any illegal equipment, he/she will be unable to participate until this equipment is removed.



Superior Dome



Seven (7) players shall make up a full team.  Teams can play with a minimum of six (6) players.


Players may leave and re-enter at will as long as the ball is not in play.  Players leaving the field must be completely out of bounds before the ball is snapped.


Players’ first and last names must be listed on the score sheet.  Valid I.D.’s are required and will be checked prior to each game.


On offense, there must be a minimum of three (3) players on the line of scrimmage at all times.


Co-Rec Rules:

  • A team of seven players shall consist of four (4) women and three (3) men.
  • A team may begin with a minimum of six (6). Of these six players, three must be women, and three must be men or four women and two men.
  • Substitutions shall be permitted on a male for male/female for female basis only.



Two (2) twenty (20) minute halves shall constitute a game.  Time is continuous for each half except when a time-out is called or after a touch down or safety.  The Intramural Program may change the length of games at its discretion.  The two minute warning will be given to both team managers during both halves.


After the two (2) minute warning of the 2nd half, the clock will stop for time-outs, incomplete passes, runner going out of bounds, and scores.  Mercy Rule: If a team is losing by more than 18 points at this time, then the game will be called.


There will be a five (5) minute intermission between halves.  Each team will be permitted two time-outs per half each being 30 seconds.  Unused time-outs may not be carried over.



Rock, Paper, Scissors shall be conducted prior to the start of the game.

Winner Chooses:

  1. Begin game on offense.
  2. Begin game on defense.

Loser Chooses:

  1. Which side to start on.


After a safety, the team who scored the safety shall put the ball into play on its own 20 yard line.



The offensive team has the option of calling for a “protective” punt.  Under this condition, no player may cross the scrimmage line until the ball has been kicked on offense or defense.  If a player from either team crosses the line of scrimmage before the ball is punted, a five (5) yard penalty will be assessed.  After any punt, the ball will be declared dead the instant it strikes the ground. 
The punt returner can call for a fair catch, at that time all players must stay at least 10 yards from the returner.  Wherever the fair catch is made, the offense will begin play.



The following is the scoring system to be used for all levels of flag football:

            Touchdown – six (6) points

            Three yard extra point – one (1) point

            Five yard extra point – two (2) points

            Safety – two (2) points



Four (4) downs shall be allowed in which to advance the ball into the next zone (1st down).  The next zone shall be considered reached when the forward part of the ball, in its position when declared dead on the field, touches or is advanced farther than the line making the zone.



In order for a ball carrier to be ruled down, one of his/her flags must be completely removed from the flag belt.  The de-flagger must immediately hold the flag above his/her head once it is grabbed.



  • Hold the ball carrier in order to deflag him/her

  • Trip the ball carrier

  • Unnecessarily knock the ball carrier down

  • Intentionally push or cause the ball carrier to fall to the ground

  • Push or block a ball carrier out of bounds

*The above infractions will result in a penalty.



  • Use a stiff arm to ward off a defensive player

  • Attempt to knock a defensive player’s arms away from his/her flags or flag guarding

  • Hit a defensive player in the face

  • Deliberately drive into a potential de-flagger

*The above infractions will result in a penalty.



  • If a pass is caught, or intercepted by a player with a missing flag, then the player is down immediately after the catch.

  • Once the ball is spotted, the play clock will start at 35 seconds.

  • If a ball carrier loses a flag while running, he/she will be ruled down at that spot.  A ball carrier must have both flags attached when crossing the goal line.

  • When a ball carrier’s knees contact the ground, he/she is immediately ruled down (deflagging not necessary).

  • Ball carriers cannot hurdle opponents.

  • There will be a 3 apple count before players are allowed to go inside after the snap.  If an offensive lineman runs for a pass, no 3 apple count is needed.

  • Blitzing - Only the three players on the line can rush the QB.  They can rush around the outside without counting, but need a 3 apple count to rush up the middle.

  • If the players feet leave the ground within 5 feet of the QB, a penalty will be called. 5yd if no contact is made, 15 yd if contact is made with QB.



Only screen blocks are permitted.  The feet must be in contact with the ground.  No blocking above the shoulders or below the waist.  No high/low blocks.  The arms and elbows must be held close to the blocker’s body and extend straight down.  Any extension of the arm or elbow will result in a five (5) yard penalty.  Use of hands is prohibited by an offensive blocker.


Defensive players cannot initiate contact with an offensive player.  They must attempt to go around, not through the offensive blocker.  Incidental contact is permitted.  Rushing, pulling, or running over a blocker is a fifteen (15) yard penalty.



Any unnecessary roughness on the part of an offensive or defensive player will be penalized.  A fifteen (15) yard penalty plus an ejection for that player will be awarded.  The next offense will result in a game disqualification.

Disqualification fouls:

  1. Any contact with an opponent’s head or neck
  2. Using fists, kicking, or kneeing
  3. Use of abusive, insulting, or profane language to an official or opposing player
  4. Any other deliberate or flagrant act of poor sportsmanship



In instances where a fumble or muff occurs, the ball becomes dead when it strikes the ground.  The team that last had possession prior to the fumble or muff will retain the ball unless it was fourth down.



All seven (7) players are eligible to receive a pass. 



Games that end in a tie during the regular season, will remain a tie.  During tournament the procedure for the tie breaker is as follows:

  1. Rock, Paper, Scissors- Winner has choice of offense or defense.
  2. First team on offense has 4 plays or until change of possession to score.  Second team on offense has 4 plays or until change of possession to score.
  3. Whichever team is ahead after each team has had an equal number of possessions is declared the winner.
  4. All touchdowns must be followed by an extra point attempt.  Exception:  Second team scores “go ahead” point which decides game.
  5. All overtime possessions begin on the 10 yard line.
  6. The entire overtime procedure will take place on one side of the field only.
  7. Additional overtime may be needed if neither team scores.



Where penalties are enforced from:

            Line = Line of scrimmage

            Spot = Spot of the foul

            End = From the end of the run


Five (5) Yard Penalties:

  1. (Line) Delay of game
  2. (Line) Encroachment
  3. (Line) False Start
  4. (Spot) Illegal handling ball forward
  5. (Line) Offense-Less than 3 players on line of scrimmage
  6. (Line) Defense-Less than 3 players on line of scrimmage
  7. (Spot) Aiding the runner
  8. (Line) Cross the line of scrimmage prior to a protective punt being kicked for offense and defense
  9. (Line) Too many players on field
  10. (Line) Illegal motion
  11. (Line) Illegal forward pass (plus loss of down)
  12. (Line) Illegal Blitz
  13. (Spot) Flag guarding
  14. (Spot) Diving or hurdling with the ball
  15. (Line) Holding
  16. (End) Holding ball carrier in order to deflag


Fifteen (15) Yard Penalties:

  1. Pass interference - any attempt to disrupt the receiver from attempting to catch the ball, deflagging before the catch, or waving arms to distract the receiver.

(Line) a.  Offensive – includes loss of down

(Line) b.  Defensive – includes automatic first down

  1. (Spot) Illegal block
  2. (Spot) Fair catch interference
  3. (Spot) Contact with person making fair catch
  4. (Spot) Striking head or neck (includes ejection from game)
  5. (Line) Clipping
  6. (Line) Tripping
  7. (End) Diving in an attempt to deflag
  8. (End) Push or knock ball carrier out of bounds
  9. (End) Tackling
  10. (Spot) Ball carrier deliberately driving into a defensive player
  11. (Line) Unsportsmanlike conduct - if a player received two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, they will be ejected from that game.


If 15 yard penalty is given on a touchdown, the 15 yards will be enforced on the extra point.



ABSOLUTELY NO DRINKING is allowed before playing in Intramural Sports Activities!  If an official, for any reason, suspects that a player has been drinking prior to playing, that player will not be allowed to participate in the game.  If anyone is found using tobacco products or drinking he/she will be asked to leave the building and will be indefinitely suspended pending a meeting with the Intramural Sports Coordinator.