DCGFFL Rules Of Play

The DC Gay Flag Football League follows the most recently adopted Gay Bowl rules, as written by the National Gay Flag Football League (the rules can be accessed here).

A summary of the DCGFFL rules is provided below.

Please contact the DCGFFL Board of Directors with any questions or clarifications.

General Rules Of Play Overview

Each game is played in two 30 minute halves with a 5 minute break at halftime (unless otherwise agreed to by the opposing captains). The game clock runs continuously until the final two minutes of each half, unless stopped by a timeout.

During the last two minutes of each half, the game clock will run according to high school football rules. For the following scenarios, the clock is stopped and will not restart until the next legal snap of a timed down: player’s timeouts, incomplete passes, changes of possession, scoring plays, and after a play ends out of bounds. In the event of offical timeouts and first downs, the game clock is stopped and it is restarted once the ball is spotted and the ready for play signal is given by the referee.

Each team gets 4 timeouts per non-overtime game and can use up to 3 in a single half.


  • A first down is awarded after ten yards, unless modified by penalties.

  • There are no fumbles – the ball is dead when it touches the ground

  • Ball must be on the ground for a snap.

  • Only one running play (including a QB scramble across the line of scrimmage) per series of downs.

  • QB is across the line of scrimmage (and therefore cannot make a legal forward pass) if either foot is across the line. If the QB’s entire body is across the line but the feet are behind it, the forward pass is legal. If the QB is doing the splits and only his foot is across the line, it’s still illegal. It only takes 1 foot across the line to be illegal.

  • Every offensive player must be set for one full second before the snap. After being set, a player is allowed to go in motion. If multiple players are in motion, every player needs to re-set.
  • Only one player may be in motion parallel to the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap.

  • There is no penalty for intentional grounding by the QB.

  • No flag guarding is allowed, including stiff-arming, lower your head or shoulder when running with the ball, running with your hands below your waist, or hurdling to avoid being de-flagged. Spinning and lateral jumps (where the flags do not change height) are allowed.

  • No charging into an opponent – a ball carrier must go around a stationary player.

  • Teammates cannot push or pull a runner with the ball.

  • Receiver needs to get one foot in bounds with possession of ball for a legal catch.

  • Downfield blocking is allowed after a receiver makes a catch or a runner has crossed the line of scrimmage. Regular blocking rules (described below) apply. Note: 2 on 1 blocking is only allowed in the neutral zone and behind it.


  • A blocker is allowed to contact only that portion of the opponent’s body between the waist and shoulders and the blocker’s hands or forearms must be in front or to the side of the player being blocked.

  • A blocker’s arms cannot be fully extended.

  • Hands must always be in advance of the elbows, and the arms must be flexed at the elbows.

  • In any block, the hands or arms may not be swinging forward faster than the blocker’s body. Players must block with hands and elbows within the frame of their body.


  • When rushing as a defender, you must be beyond the neutral zone which extends to 5 yards from the line of scrimmage. When the ball is hiked you can immediately rush from this position. There is no limit to the number of people who can rush from this position.

  • A pass rusher must avoid charging into a blocker. When encountering a blocker, a pass rusher must (a) stop prior to making contact with the blocker or (b) clearly change direction in an effort to move around the blocker.

  • If a pass rusher makes an effort to move around the blocker and the blocker moves into the path of the pass rusher, there is no charging.

  • Rushing Exception: You CAN rush from the line of scrimmage (not 5 yards deep) once a rusher who has lined up 5 yards back has crossed the line of scrimmage. For example: If you line up on the line of scrimmage you must wait until one of the rushers who lined up 5 yards off the line of scrimmage crosses the line before you can rush in. Rush restrictions end once a QB passes the football.

  • “Tackling” – Only way to “tackle” a ball-carrier is to remove their flag. A defender can’t push the player out of bounds or try to knock the player down. A defender is not allowed to obstruct the forward progress of a ball-carrier.

  • Defenders are allowed to contact receivers within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. Blocking rules apply here as well. Defenders cannot have contact with the receiver (other than incidental) beyond 5 yards. When defending a pass, defenders must make a play on the ball only.


  • No player can move until the ball is kicked. Receiving team must have at least 4 players between their 30 yard line and midfield. At least 4 receivers must remain in this area until the ball is kicked.

  • Punts – Fourth down punts have to be announced (teams can quick-kick on any other down). For announced punts all teammates of the kicker must be within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage. Kicker must be 5 yards from the line when they receive the snap.

  • Receiving team must have 4 players within one yard beyond the line of scrimmage until after the ball is kicked. No receiver can cross or move off the line of scrimmage until after the ball is kicked


  • Touchdowns are 6 points.

  • Following a touchdown, an extra point can be made by converting a play from the 5 yard line or two extra points can be made by converting from the 10. Running is allowed on all extra point tries.

  • A team may change their decision on a 1-or 2-point try after using a team timeout.

  • If a team intercepts a pass or fumble during the try and returns it for a touchdown, the team scores 2 points.

  • During a try, after a change of possession, if a foul occurs that directly affects the runner (holding, personal foul, tripping), then the runner’s team shall be awarded an attempt to try for 2 points from the 10 yard line.

  • During a try, after a change of possession, if there’s a foul that does not affect the runner, the penalty is assessed from the succeeding spot (the 15 yard line on the start of the next possession).

Highlighted Rule Clarifications

  • A player is not penalized for participating in a down without a flag belt. If a player is not wearing a flag belt at the snap, the ball becomes dead immediately if that player possesses the ball. If a player’s belt falls off during a play, a 1-hand touch is required to end the down.

  • Towels may be worn by the center only and must not interfere with the positioning of his / her flags.

  • If an illegal forward pass (ie, the QB throws the ball after crossing the line of scrimmage) occurs within 1 yard of the line of scrimmage, the penalty is 5 yards and a loss of down – in this case, the QB will retain his run. However, if an illegal forward pass clearly occurs beyond 1 yard from the line of scrimmage, the same penalty applies AND the QB loses his run for that possession.

  • An errant snap that touches the ground is spotted at the previous spot and the down counts. In essence, it is treated as an incomplete pass.

  • A fumbled ball is dead once the ball touches the ground. If the ball is fumbled backwards, it is spotted where the ball touches the ground. If the ball is fumbled forward, it is spotted where the ball carrier lost possession. NOTE: an incomplete backwards pass is treated as a fumble and spotted where the ball touches the ground.

Personal Fouls

The DCGFFL Board wants to reiterate League policy on personal fouls (unsportsmanlike conduct) to ensure the League remains a fun, safe, and harassment free environment in which to play football.

As outlined in the NGFFL rules, unsportsmanlike conduct includes:

  • Abusive, insulting, baiting or taunting language or gestures
  • Unnecessary roughness or overly physical conduct during or following a down
  • Spiking the ball or throwing the ball from the field of play
  • Insubordination towards a referee
  • Any other conduct deemed unsportsmanlike, dangerous, or unbecoming as determined by any referee of a given game

Any player committing an act that the referee deems flagrant and semi-violent (such as throwing a ball at another player after play has ended) will be assigned a personal foul and will be automatically ejected for 8 downs / scrimmage plays. The player’s team will also receive a ten-yard penalty. (Note: Since a kickoff does not count as scrimmage play, an ejected player may participate in the kickoff at the start of a half. The kickoff does not account toward meeting the ejection period.)

Violent personal fouls (such as throwing a punch) will result in automatic ejection for the remainder of the game and for the following game and will be reported to the Board for investigation and potentially further action.

Any player who accrues two (2) or more personal fouls in one (1) game will be suspended automatically for the remainder of that game and for the following game that he or she would otherwise play. Any player who accrues three (3) or more personal fouls over the course of one (1) season may face a full season suspension.

The DCGFFL Board reserves the right to review personal fouls and determine whether the severity of the foul and/or number of accumulated fouls merits disciplinary actions in addition to or separate from those listed above, including, but not limited to, partial or full suspension from future games or a full season suspension. Players and their team captains will be notified of personal fouls and any resulting disciplinary actions.

Policies - Play Every Play (PEP) Requirement

During the regular season, captains are required to play every eligible and uninjured player for one drive in each half of a game, which can be on either offense or defense. Kickoffs do not count for purposes of fulfilling the PEP requirement.

The DCGFFL Board reserves the right to review repeated infractions of this requirement by a captain and assign disciplinary action.

Policies - Player Playoffs Eligibility

Players are required to play at least half (rounded up), or four (4) weeks, of their available games in a season in order to be eligible to play during the playoffs. Those starting at the beginning of the season need to play five (5) of the nine (9) season games, but those who join during the supplemental draft after Week 3 only need to meet half of their team’s remaining games (e.g. if the team has 5 remaining games, the player only needs to attend 3). Injury is the only exception to the game attendance requirement.

Policies - Playoffs Seeding

The Board will use the following methodology to determine playoffs seeding. This methodology is how the NGFFL seeds teams for Gay Bowl. The working modus is that win-loss ratios should be the deciding factor in determining rankings. Point spreads are only used if all sub-group analyses do not provide a winner:

1) Overall Win-Loss Record: Within each conference, teams will be ranked highest to lowest according to most wins. Any cross-conference games played will count toward the overall record used for seeding.

2) Ties: If two or more teams are tied with the same overall win-loss record, then ties will be broken using the following process:

a) Head-to-Head Record between Two Teams - If two teams are tied with the same overall win-loss record, then the head-to-head record in the direct matchup will be used to determine the higher ranked team.

b) Conference Record - If three or more teams are tied with the same overall win-loss record, then teams will be ranked highest to lowest according to most wins within the conference.

c) Record amongst a Tied Group - If two or more teams are tied with the same conference record, then teams will be ranked highest to lowest according to most wins within the tied group.

In the event that two teams are tied with the same conference record, the head-to-head record in the direct matchup will be used to determine the higher ranked team.

In the event that three or more teams are tied with the same conference record, then teams will be ranked highest to lowest according to most wins within the tied sub-group. Sub-groups are analyzed as necessary.

d) If teams are still tied after considering applicable sub-groups, then ranking is determined by the point differential within the sub group. If point differentials are the same, then expand to overall point differential. If still tied, then the tie is decided by a coin flip. The maximum point spread for any single game is ±36.

Policies - Playoffs Scheduling

The DCGFFL uses a 20-team cross-conference bracket (see ‘Sample Playoffs Bracket in the Important Information inset).

1) Odd Seeds from one conference will be on one side of the bracket while Even Seeds are on the other side of the bracket. Except for #1 & #2 seeds, Odd Seeds of each conference will initially play Even Seeds from the other conference. Seeds #1 & #2 will play the winner of the Round 1 games.

2) Byes: Seeds #1 through #6 of each conference have a single bye. Seeds #7 to #10 do not have a bye and may play a maximum of three games on the first weekend of playoffs.

3) Round 1, Matchups:

  • Seeds #7 play #10 Seeds.
  • Seeds #8 play #9 Seeds.

4) Round 1, Scheduling: The first round of games are played at either 8:00 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. There are only two 8:00 a.m. games. Game times are assigned based on preference of the #1 or #2 seeds, who will play the winners in Round 2.

5) Round 2, Matchups:

  • Seeds #1 play Winner of #8 v. #9 Round 1 Game.
  • Seeds #2 play Winner of #7 v. #10 Round 1 Game.
  • Seeds #3 play Seeds #6.
  • Seeds #4 play Seeds #5.

6) Round 2, Scheduling: The second round of games may be played at 9:30 a.m., 11:00 a.m., or 12:30 p.m. Two Round 2 games will be at 9:30, four at 11:00, and 2 at 12:30 p.m.

  • The highest ranked #1 seed (W-L ratio, then total point differential) is given the first preference, followed by the #1 seed of the opposite conference. Preference is then give to the highest ranked #2 seed and so on until the schedule is set.
  • Teams may not have more than one back-to-back game.
  • Teams may not have more than one time period break in between games.
  • Captains are given the following options, which may determine the time of their game, their possible following game, or the prior game. Captains may only choose one option.

i) Do you want to play as late as possible? ii) Do you want your potential opponent to play as early as possible? iii) Do you want to play back-to-back games, assuming you win? iv) Do you want your opponent to play back to back? v) Do you want a break between your games, assuming you win? vi) Do you want your opponents to have a break between their games?

7) Quarterfinals, Matchups:

  • Winners of #1 v. #8 / #9 play Winners of #4 v. #5
  • Winners of #2 v. #7 / #10 play Winners of #3 v. #6

8) Quarterfinals, Scheduling: The third round of games may be played at 12:30 p.m., 2:00 p.m. Two Quarterfinal games will be at 12:30 and 2 at 2:00 p.m. Timing may be determined by the timing of the Round 2 games.

9) Championship Weekend: Semifinals and the Superbowl are on the final weekend of playoffs.

  • Semifinals: On each side of the bracket, the winners of the Quarterfinals will play each other in the Semifinals at 11:00 a.m.
  • Superbowl: The winner of each Semifinal will play in the Superbowl at 1:00 p.m.