Flagrant foul

A flagrant foul is a serious contact foul involving unnecessary and/or excessive and/or intentional contact in sport. There is a specific National Basketball Association foul termed a flagrant foul.

NBA flagrant fouls

In basketball, a personal foul is a breach of the rules that concerns illegal personal contact with an opponent. The NBA flagrant foul rule was enacted in the 1990s as an attempt to deter contact which, in addition to being against the rules, puts an opponent's safety and health at risk. The terminology in the NBA rulebook for contact that puts safety and health at risk is unnecessary and/or excessive contact.

Types of flagrant fouls

The flagrant foul rule is described in several subsections of NBA Rule Number 12. The most extensive section is 12B (Personal Fouls) Section IV (Flagrant Fouls). There are two types of flagrant fouls defined: flagrant 1 and flagrant 2. Flagrant 2 is the more serious infraction. A flagrant 2 foul results in immediate ejection, whereas two flagrant 1 fouls are required before the player is ejected. Although the delineation between these two rules has evolved, the general distinction has been whether the excessive contact was intentional.

Fines associated with flagrant fouls

Over the course of the season, flagrant fouls accrue increasingly steep monetary fines at the sole discretion of the Commissioner.

Flagrant fouls and game tactics

Within a game, the presence of the flagrant foul rule helps to deter undesired play (usually as the game winds down) by awarding possession of the ball as an extra penalty. A simple personal foul will generally result in either free throws or possession of the ball depending on the number of accumulated team fouls. However, a flagrant foul will result in both the award of free throws and subsequent possession. Thus, when a trailing team is employing a tactic of slowing the game down by fouling, it must be careful not to use unnecessary and/or excessive contact, even though such fouls are intentional by definition, or it will give its opponent both free throws and the ball back and defeat its own tactic.

FIBA rules

FIBA basketball rules have a similar foul called an unsportsmanlike foul, which is roughly equivalent to a flagrant type 1. If a player commits a foul warranting immediate ejection from the game, the foul would be called as a disqualifying foul - similar to a flagrant 2. Two unsportsmanlike fouls lead to automatic disqualification, similar to the NBA

The penalty for an unsportsmanlike or disqualifying foul is two free throws and possession at the half-way line for the opposing team. If a player is disqualified for two unsportsmanlike fouls, there is no additional penalty for the disqualification: only the second unsportsmanlike foul is punished, just like the NBA.

NCAA and NFHS basketball rules

NCAA (college) and NFHS (U.S. high school) rules define a flagrant foul as a personal or technical foul that is extreme or severe.

  • A flagrant personal foul (or intentional foul) involves excessive or severe contact during a live ball.
  • A flagrant technical foul involves unsportsmanlike conduct that is extreme in nature, or excessive or severe contact during a dead ball. Fighting is also considered a flagrant technical foul.

The penalty for a flagrant foul in NCAA and NFHS rules is immediate ejection of the offending player, plus two free-throws and a throw-in for the opposing team.

  • For a flagrant personal foul (or intentional foul), the throw-in spot is at the out-of-bounds spot nearest the foul.
  • For a flagrant technical foul, the throw-in spot is at the division line opposite the scorer's table.

Other sports

A flagrant foul is a general term in sports that refers to an intentional or excessive foul. Many sports have two levels of flagrant fouls. In American Football, such fouls generally result in either an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty or ejection. In soccer, such fouls generally result in either a yellow card or a red card being issued. In Ice Hockey, such fouls sometimes result in either a boarding or Attempt to injure (or other) infraction being called and may result in either a major or Game misconduct penalty.

See also


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