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Old Mon Jun 16, 2003, 10:12pm
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Had this discussion with some fellow officials, thought I'd throw it out for some more opinion:

A1 throws a backwards pass to teammate A2, who jumps in the air before "catching" the ball (I put it in quotes because it isn't really a catch by definition, but that's the best word to illustrate) and while still in the air throws the ball forward where it lands on the ground inbounds and then rolls out of bounds.

A backwards pass cannot be batted forward by team A, that's simple enough. However, would you interpret this as batting since the definition of batting is an "intentional act of striking or slapping" the ball and in this case, the ball was not struck or slapped, but rather intentionally thrown without there being any catch, possession, or recovery?

If not illegal batting, then wouldn't this simply be treated as a loose ball?

Personally, I can't see this act being within the spirit of the rules, and if I had this happen I would likely interpret the intentional act as being illegal batting. Any thoughts?
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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 06:16am
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Quote:
Originally posted by stripes1977
Had this discussion with some fellow officials, thought I'd throw it out for some more opinion:

A1 throws a backwards pass to teammate A2, who jumps in the air before "catching" the ball (I put it in quotes because it isn't really a catch by definition, but that's the best word to illustrate) and while still in the air throws the ball forward where it lands on the ground inbounds and then rolls out of bounds.

A backwards pass cannot be batted forward by team A, that's simple enough. However, would you interpret this as batting since the definition of batting is an "intentional act of striking or slapping" the ball and in this case, the ball was not struck or slapped, but rather intentionally thrown without there being any catch, possession, or recovery?

If not illegal batting, then wouldn't this simply be treated as a loose ball?

Personally, I can't see this act being within the spirit of the rules, and if I had this happen I would likely interpret the intentional act as being illegal batting. Any thoughts?
It doesn't meet the definition of a bat so it can't be penalized as such. This is very similar to a play discussed here before where a receiver jumps high, secures the ball, and before he lands, he throws it forward to another team member.

I think I'd have to go with no call unless I hear something different from the NFHS or my state association.


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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 09:20am
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IMHO, if he had enough presence and maybe "control" of the ball (since you said it wasn't really a bat), isn't this really just an incomplete forward pass???
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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 09:32am
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Quote:
Originally posted by cmathews
IMHO, if he had enough presence and maybe "control" of the ball (since you said it wasn't really a bat), isn't this really just an incomplete forward pass???
Strike this.

Good call. No foul. Just a dead ball. Thanks for pointing that out cmatthews!


It can't be both a forward pass and a backward pass.





[Edited by mikesears on Jun 17th, 2003 at 10:45 AM]
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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 09:58am
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The thought of an incomplete pass came to our minds too, but since the initial pass was backwards and there was no catch or possession by A2, isn't this simply a continuation of the backwards pass, and treated as a fumble?

Believe me I understand this doesn't fall under the definition of batting, which I think could be reworded to include this type of play. Is this just a loophole in the rules? What would keep a team from throwing the ball to the sideline in this manner to gain yardage repeatedly? (Assuming that it is not an incomplete forward pass)

I'm to the point now where I don't really care what the answer is, I would just like to be able to see it for myself!
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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 10:07am
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The reason I go with the incomplete forward pass is this. If he has the presence and control to propel the ball forward without it meeting a "bat" definition, then I call it a pass, if it isn't a pass or a bat, then it is a muff and a fumble, but in my mind in order to go forward far enough to gain yardage, he either batted or threw it, one costs yardage the other costs a down...and again in my opinion, I go with the incomplete pass...but yes it must be seen to be "believed" or judged
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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 10:40am
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Quote:
Originally posted by stripes1977
The thought of an incomplete pass came to our minds too, but since the initial pass was backwards and there was no catch or possession by A2, isn't this simply a continuation of the backwards pass, and treated as a fumble?
It isn't a forward pass so it isn't dead. If I'd read the original post again I would have realized that. My mistake.

You are correct that this is a "fumble" by rule because an airborn player has not possessed the ball until he lands (paraphrased).

Quote:
Originally posted by stripes1977
Believe me I understand this doesn't fall under the definition of batting, which I think could be reworded to include this type of play. Is this just a loophole in the rules? What would keep a team from throwing the ball to the sideline in this manner to gain yardage repeatedly?
I don't think this is a loophole. A team would need to be very gifted to successfully execute this play a number of times during a single game. The passer would need to be very accurate each time this play was run. The receiver would need to have a natural gift for leaping and timing and would need some natural strength to throw the ball forward for any distance without being in contact with the ground. It seems that there is more of a chance for a misplay than an advantage gained by the offense. Other than the difficult nature of running this play successfully, nothing prevents a team from running it during a game.

Quote:
Originally posted by stripes1977
I'm to the point now where I don't really care what the answer is, I would just like to be able to see it for myself! [/B]
A very similar play happened in a college game and the offcials ruled it illegal in that game. (Except is was a forward pass thrown forward by an airborn receiver). Later the NCAA came out with an alternate ruling stating that this type of play is legal. I don't recall or know if the NFHS followed suit on this.





[Edited by mikesears on Jun 17th, 2003 at 10:43 AM]
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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 10:49am
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Ok here we go, more fuel . If the act is intentional, but there is no possession, which I agree with after I read your post, Mike. Then we do have illegal batting. I don't have my books with me, but isn't batting defined as intentionally striking the ball (paraphrased). Since the offense can't "bat" the ball forward, and it can't be a pass because of the possession issue, if it is intentional, it almost has to be batting by NHFS doesn't it?? Again, just more fuel, and probably picking nits, which I think we all like to do subconsiously or otherwise LOL

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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 11:04am
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Quote:
Originally posted by cmathews
Ok here we go, more fuel . If the act is intentional, but there is no possession, which I agree with after I read your post, Mike. Then we do have illegal batting. I don't have my books with me, but isn't batting defined as intentionally striking the ball (paraphrased). Since the offense can't "bat" the ball forward, and it can't be a pass because of the possession issue, if it is intentional, it almost has to be batting by NHFS doesn't it?? Again, just more fuel, and probably picking nits, which I think we all like to do subconsiously or otherwise LOL


Batting is defined as .. "intentionally slapping or striking the ball with the hand or arm". Did the player strike or slap the ball? If so, we have an illegal bat. If he secured the ball and then threw it forward before landing, it can't be a foul for batting (if we want to pick nits).

This fits the description of a muff. "A muff is the touching ... of a loose ball by a player in an unsuccessful attempt to secure possession." And muffing the ball isn't illegal.










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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 12:07pm
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ok then a muff it is....ok now onto the next down
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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 12:11pm
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This fits the description of a muff. "A muff is the touching ... of a loose ball by a player in an unsuccessful attempt to secure possession." And muffing the ball isn't illegal.


But in this case, wasn't he successful in his attempt to secure the ball? We just don't have "possession" because he didn't return to the ground.

I had this thought a little while ago: If we treat this as a fumble, then wouldn't this be considered an intentional fumble forward? And without the benefit of having my books in front of me...is this a foul in NFHS?

This is exactly why I wanted to post this on here, because this is the same type of circle we started running into.







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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 12:16pm
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there is always a penalty for not informing the officiating crew of the intent to run a trick play????? (said with tongue firmly in cheek )
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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 12:47pm
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Quote:
Originally posted by stripes1977
This fits the description of a muff. "A muff is the touching ... of a loose ball by a player in an unsuccessful attempt to secure possession." And muffing the ball isn't illegal.


But in this case, wasn't he successful in his attempt to secure the ball? We just don't have "possession" because he didn't return to the ground.

I had this thought a little while ago: If we treat this as a fumble, then wouldn't this be considered an intentional fumble forward? And without the benefit of having my books in front of me...is this a foul in NFHS?

This is exactly why I wanted to post this on here, because this is the same type of circle we started running into.
The key part of the sentence is secure "POSSESSION".

An airborn player does not possess the ball until he completes a catch. (Rule 2-4-1, Rule 2-32-1)


It isn't a fumble because a player who does not have possession of the ball cannot fumble (Football Fundamental I-5 and Rule 2-18.)

I think I know where you are going, but picking nits again, it isn't illegal to fumble the ball forward. It is illegal to pass the ball forward when beyond the line of scrimmage. If it happened behind the line of scrimmage, we have an incomplete pass.

An INTENTIONAL fumble forward is a forward pass and treated as such.



[Edited by mikesears on Jun 17th, 2003 at 01:07 PM]
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Old Tue Jun 17, 2003, 07:41pm
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I wasn't sure if intentionally fumbling the ball forward was an NFHS foul or not, so that takes care of that. And I agree that you can't fumble without having possession, and we definitely don't have possession here.

I guess the problem I have with this is that, although difficult, this play could happen (I've seen it in a flag football game) and it just seems outside the spirit of the rules. The potential for gaining a lot of yardage on this play is quite real, or a short first down, and it seems like a team would be "cheating" within the rules.

Is there any room for interpretation of the words "striking" or "slapping" in the definition of batting? Does anyone else feel like this SHOULD be batting, although it doesn't fit in the definition and that maybe the definition of illegal batting could be updated?

Maybe to: an intentional act that advances a backwards pass towards the opponent's goal line. (or something along those lines that removes the specificity of "slapping" or "striking" with the "arm" or "hand"
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Old Wed Jun 18, 2003, 09:03am
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I guess the problem I have with this is that, although difficult, this play could happen (I've seen it in a flag football game) and it just seems outside the spirit of the rules. The potential for gaining a lot of yardage on this play is quite real...

Football is like the stock market. A risky venture can lead to huge gains or devastating losses. I doubt many teams would design a play like this due to the difficulty in executing it. This is more likely going to be a "made-up-on-the-spot" type play and it is within the current rules.

Here is a play that actually happened in the NCAA. A1 throws a pass to A2 near the sideline. A2 (who is well beyond the line of scrimmage) jumps high to catch the ball. After he secures the ball but before he lands, he pitches the ball forward to teammate A3. Legal or illegal?

The NCAA ruled this a legal play (albeit, after the fact). I realize we aren't talking NCAA rules, but they have similar rules for "catching" the ball, possession, etc.



. . . or a short first down . . .


I think a team is more likely to use a hard count or a traditional run play in short yardage situations. It would be foolish to CALL this play in those situations. But if a team can successfully execute it, why punish them?



and it seems like a team would be "cheating" within the rules.

Is there any room for interpretation of the words "striking" or "slapping" in the definition of batting? Does anyone else feel like this SHOULD be batting, although it doesn't fit in the definition and that maybe the definition of illegal batting could be updated?

Maybe to: an intentional act that advances a backwards pass towards the opponent's goal line. (or something along those lines that removes the specificity of "slapping" or "striking" with the "arm" or "hand"


I know you understand this, but batting isn't illegal simply because it moves the ball towards an opponent's goal line. Think about a player who fumbles the ball, and instead of trying to pick it up, he bats the ball out of bounds (either direction). By changing the batting rule, we could alter other rules in the book.

I understand what you are saying but I don't think a team who executes a difficult play successfully should be penalized. They aren't cheating or circumventing a rule. Again, just my two cents. I'd be interested to hear what others have to say.





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