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Fan's Guide to Football, Page 3 of 5: Fouls

football player1- History & Object of the Game
2- The Essentials (Offense & Defense, Scoring, etc.)
3- Fouls
4- Field Diagram & Positions
5- Glossary of Football Terms

Common Referee Signals

Referees govern the game to ensure fair and safe play. One major role of the referee is to signal action on the field. Some of the more common signals include a successful score (signaled by both hands straight in air), first down (signaled by arm movement pointing forward), and incomplete pass (signaled by arms waved back and forth). Referees also enforce the rules of the game by calling penalties. Common defensive penalties include offsides and pass interference. Common offensive penalties include false start and holding. Other penalties include delay of game, facemask, clipping, illegal formation, intentional grounding, and tripping. During most penalties, the referee throws a yellow flag and play continues until the whistle is blown so as not to take away an advantage from the team that was fouled. When play stops, the team can either “accept” or “decline” the penalty—whichever is the most advantageous. Accepting the penalty usually results in the replay of the down and a movement of the ball a certain distance from the line of scrimmage (or the infraction)—usually 5 or 10 yards. Serious violations of the rules for unnecessary roughness or unsportsmanlike conduct are personal fouls that result in a 15-yard penalty. Declining the penalty allows the result of the play to stand as is.

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