The Football Code
Football is an aggressive, rugged contact sport.
Only the highest standards of sportsmanship and conduct are expected of
players, coaches and others associated with the game.
There is no place for unfair tactics, unsportsmanlike conduct or maneuvers
deliberately designed to inflict injury.
The British American Football Coaches Association (BAFCA)
Code of Ethics states:
The Football Code shall be an integral part of this code of ethics and
should be carefully read and observed.
To gain an advantage by circumvention or disregard for the rules brands
a coach or player as unfit to be associated with football.
Through the years, the rules committee has endeavoured by rule and
appropriate penalty to prohibit all forms of unnecessary roughness,
unfair tactics and unsportsmanlike conduct.
But rules alone cannot accomplish this end.
Only the continued best efforts of coaches, players, officials and all
friends of the game can preserve the high ethical standards that the
public has a right to expect in
Therefore, as a guide to players, coaches, officials and others
responsible for the welfare of the game, the committee publishes the
Deliberately teaching players to violate the rules is indefensible.
The coaching of intentional holding, beating the ball, illegal shifting,
feigning injury, interference, illegal forward passing or intentional
roughing will break down rather than aid in the building of the character
Such instruction is not only unfair to one's opponents but is demoralising
to the players entrusted to a coach's care and has no place in
The following are unethical practices:
Changing numbers during the game to deceive the opponent.
Using the football helmet as a weapon.
The helmet is for the protection of the player.
Targeting and initiating contact.
Players, coaches and officials should emphasize the elimination of
targeting and initiating contact against a defenseless opponent and/or
with the crown of the helmet.
Using nontherapeutic drugs in the game of football.
This is not in keeping with the aims and purposes of amateur athletics
and is prohibited.
"Beating the ball" by an unfair use of a starting signal.
This is nothing less than deliberately stealing an advantage from the
An honest starting signal is needed, but a signal that has for its purpose
starting the team a fraction of a second before the ball is put in play,
in the hope that it will not be detected by the officials, is illegal.
It is the same as if a sprinter in a 100-metre dash had a secret
arrangement with the starter to give him a tenth-of-a-second warning
before firing the pistol.
Shifting in a way that simulates the start of a play or employing any
other unfair tactic for the purpose of drawing one's opponent offside.
This can be construed only as a deliberate attempt to gain an unmerited
Feigning an injury for any reason is unethical.
An injured player must be given full protection under the rules, but
feigning injury is dishonest, unsportsmanlike and contrary to the spirit
of the rules.
Such tactics cannot be tolerated among sportsmen of integrity.
American Football Coaches Association has stated:
In his relationship with players under his care, the coach should
always be aware of the tremendous influence he wields, for good or bad.
The coach should never place the value of a win above that of instilling
the highest desirable ideals and character traits in his players. The
safety and welfare of his players should always be uppermost in his mind,
and they must never be sacrificed for any personal prestige or selfish
In teaching the game of football, the coach must realise that
certain rules exist that are designed to protect the player and provide
common standards for determining a winner and a loser. Any attempt to beat
these rules, to take unfair advantage of an opponent, or to teach
deliberate unsportsmanlike conduct, have no place in the game of football,
nor has any coach guilty of such teaching any right to call himself a
coach. The coach should set the example for winning without boasting and
losing without bitterness. A coach who conducts himself according to these
principles need have no fear of failure, for in the final analysis, the
success of a coach can be measured in terms of the respect he has earned
from his players and from his opponents.
The diagnosis and treatment of injuries is a medical problem and should
under no circumstances be considered a province of the coach.
Under no circumstances should a coach authorise the use of
Medicines, stimulants, or drugs should be used only when authorised
and supervised by a physician. Coaches should be aware that the willful
oversight of drug abuse by players under their care may be construed
as condoning such action.
Coaches should be acquainted with, and remain aware of the current
policy on drugs.
Talking to an opponent
Talking to an opponent in any manner that is demeaning, vulgar, abusive
or "trashy" or intended to incite a physical response or verbally put
an opponent down is illegal.
Coaches are urged to discuss this conduct frequently and support all
officials' actions to control it.
Talking to officials
When an official imposes a penalty or makes a decision, he is simply
doing his duty as he sees it.
He is on the field to uphold the integrity of the game of football, and
his decisions are final and conclusive and should be accepted by
players and coaches.
Code of Ethics states:
On- and off-the-record criticism of officials to players or to the public
shall be considered unethical.
For a coach to address, or permit anyone on his bench to address,
uncomplimentary remarks to any official during the progress of a game,
or to indulge in conduct that might incite players or spectators against
the officials, is a violation of the rules of the game and must likewise
be considered conduct unworthy of a member of the coaching profession.
Illegal use of the hand or arm is unfair play, eliminates skill and does
not belong in the game.
The object of the game is to advance the ball by strategy, skill and
speed without illegally holding your opponent.
All coaches and players should thoroughly understand the rules for proper
offensive and defensive use of the hands.
Holding is a frequently called penalty; it is important to emphasize
the severity of the penalty.
The football player or coach who intentionally violates a rule is guilty
of unfair play and unsportsmanlike conduct; and whether or not he escapes
being penalised he brings discredit to the good name of the game, which
is his duty as a player or coach to uphold.
BAFA Rules Committee &
British American Football Coaches Association
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Editor: Jim Briggs, BAFA/BAFRA Rules Committee