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22 Dead Ball Officiating


Chapter 22. Dead-Ball Officiating
Pg. 97

When a fight breaks out, the
official’s first priority should be safety.
In many cases, nothing can be done
immediately with regard to the safety of
the combatants; however, officials must
move swiftly to prevent the fight from
expanding. The wing officials should try
to prevent additional participants from
coming out of the team box. If players
have begun to enter the field, a strong
presence of officials will encourage the
non-participants to stop.
As a general rule, officials should
not attempt to break up a fight. Not
only does the official who does so
risk personal injury, but he also risks
liability if a player is struck while being
restrained. Verbal communication with
the combatants may help separate the
players. “That’s it, guys” or “everyone to
your sideline” may contribute to calming
the players down. Officials should avoid
using threats or reciting the penalties the
players face. The intervening official must
also remain calm. Matching the player’s
anger and frustration will only increase
the intensity.
If the players are standing an arm’s
length apart and exchanging blows, it is
ill advised, if not impossible, for officials
to get between them. However if the
fight becomes a mauling or one player
gains a significant advantage and the
likelihood of serious injury increases,
officials may have to take the risk and
intervene. Players that get locked up with
one another will have to be physically
separated. This should be done by two
officials, not one. The initial approach
must within the view of both fighters to
avoid being a victim of an errant elbow.
The two officials should approach “tied
up” players from opposite sides of the
altercation. Lead with one arm over the
top of the entanglement and the other
arm underneath while keeping your
face from being exposed to a stray
punch. The officials should then squeeze
together, working their way between the
players. Once the players are separated,
the officials should remain between
them. If necessary, an official can place a
hand on a player’s chest to maintain the
separation. Once the combatants have
been separated, an official should stay
with them until they are totally cooled off
and then escort them to the team box or
turn them over to a coach.