Upper Midwest Lacrosse Officials Association

Upper Midwest Lacrosse Officials

Administrative issues

Lightning policy

Please remember that a new NFHS/MSHSL lightning policy went into effect in 2009. The new policy is that the field should be cleared if there are visible bolts of lightning (not just flashes) or audible thunder, and the field should remain cleared until 30 minutes have passed with no such events. During the delay, coaches must ensure that all team personnel are in vehicles or permanent structures.

The officials may suspend the game, the site manager may suspend the game, and neither party can overrule the other. Information about suspended games is posted on the FAQs About Suspended Games page.

Generally, the officials will wait up to one hour unless arrangements can be made with them. Normally, if the game cannot be resumed safely within one hour (i.e., after 31 minutes of wait time, if there is still lightning or thunder), the officials are released. A second delay after the game has been resumed also releases the officials. 

Injured players
In general, officials should not touch injured players. Their responsibility is the whole field and all of the players and coaches. The coach and/or trainer are responsible for the injured player.

Officials should never rush an injured player off the field. They should make sure the coaches and trainers know they have all the time they need to properly treat the player and to safely remove him. 

Keeping on schedule
All of the leagues we serve value our ability to stick to a schedule by keeping games moving and starting games on time. Sometimes this means you have to shorten up the time between periods or tell the timekeeper to shorten up a period so the games will stay on schedule. Paying attention to this is most important when games start on the hour, as there is no slack built into the schedule.

For Homegrown leagues, the coaches may tell you they want a little extra time between periods for coaching. Give them the time they want, but make sure to shorten the next quarter so the games stay on schedule. 

Call off-season games the same as regular-season games
Some well-meaning officials are heard to tell players in off-season leagues things like, "I would have called that a slash in a spring game." This has to stop. If something is a personal foul, it needs to be called the same all year round so players learn what they can and cannot do and so we are protecting the safety of players year round.
Technical fouls should generally be called the same year-round if an advantage is being gained by the player committing the foul. Whether an advantage is gained definitely depends on the level of play. In off-season leagues, a little "coaching" is generally more acceptable than would be during the regular season.

In addition, use your 20-second timer in all games, including youth games, so that players and coaches learn the expected game pace. Occasional equipment checks will also help the players get used to them and to what is and is not legal. We would rather catch illegal sticks in the off-season (and have the players fix them) than the regular season! 

Eligibility issues

The game officials are only responsible for enforcing the rules in the NFHS Boys Lacrosse Rule Book. Any complaints regarding issues like the number of players or coaches in a playoff game, player suspensions, or the MSHSL limit on the number of halves that players can play in one day should be taken up with the MSHSL by the offended coaches or their athletic directors. 

Single official on an MSHSL varsity game

We assign three officials to MSHSL varsity games. If for some reason only one official shows up at a game, the coach or AD must notify the MSHSL to get a waiver to use a single official. Otherwise, the game does not count. 

Fan Behavior

The home team or host site is responsible for controlling fan behavior. If there are fans being abusive toward the officials, players, or coaches, the officials will ask the head coach from the home team to have site management deal with the problem. If the problem is not corrected, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty may be assessed against the home team’s head coach. 

Ejected JV player or coach

If a player or coach is ejected from a game he is not permitted to participate in any games until his suspension is served in the next game at the same level of play. This means an expelled JV player cannot play in a varsity game the same day (he can remain on the bench) and an expelled JV coach cannot be on his team’s sideline in the varsity game. 

Spectator Safety    

There should be no one standing or sitting beyond either end line (except where permanent seating exists), nor within 6 yards of the far sideline or within 15 yards of the bench sideline (roughly; see the field diagram in the NFHS rule book). For safety reasons, the officials should not allow the game to start or to continue if there are people in these areas.

The site manager or home-team head coach (even at neutral sites) is responsible for making sure these areas are clear. 

Unsafe fields           

The officials will never allow a game to be played if they do not believe it can be done safely. They will ignore pressure from coaches, players, and parents: if the officials don’t think the field is safe, do not play the game unless adjustments can be made to make it safe. A great example of this is permanent soccer goals on the end line: if needed, move the end line up and play on a short field rather than risk having a player get body checked into a post.

There is no such thing as, “This field is unsafe and would result in a forfeit during the MSHSL regular season, but we will play with it today.” If it’s unsafe for an MSHSL game, it is unsafe period and no game should be played. In any case, officials do not declare forfeits; that is a league issue. Officials merely decide if the game can be played safely.