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In sports, an ejection (also known as dismissal, sending-off, or disqualification) is the removal of a participant from a contest due to a violation of the sport's rules. The exact violations that lead to an ejection vary depending upon the sport, but common causes for ejection include unsportsmanlike conduct, violent acts against another participant that are beyond the sport's generally accepted standards for such acts, abuse against officials, violations of the sport's rules that the contest official deems to be egregious, or the use of an illegal substance to better a player's game. Most sports have provisions that allow players to be ejected, and many allow for the ejection of coaches, managers, or other non-playing personnel.
The decision to eject a participant usually lies with one or more officials present at the contest (e.g., referees or umpires). In addition to removal from the contest, many sports leagues provide additional sanctions against participants who have been ejected, such as monetary fines or suspensions from future contests.
When the offender is ejected, he/she must leave the immediate playing area; in most cases, this means going to the locker room or other part of the venue out of sight of the playing area, or in extreme cases, leaving the facility grounds. In many youth sports leagues, ejected players are required to stay with their coach in the team area, or at least be supervised by an adult at whatever location the player is required to go. If a participant refuses to cooperate with an ejection, additional sanctions may be levied, such as forfeiture of the contest, monetary fines, or suspensions.
In NBA and most other basketball games, a player or coach is ejected from the game if he accumulates two technical fouls of an unsportsmanlike nature over the course of the game. Participants who commit fouls of violence or intentionally enter the stands are ejected summarily regardless of the number of technical fouls accumulated. Ejected players/coaches must leave the court area for the remainder of play, and must do so immediately, or else risk even heavier fines/suspensions. In the NBA, an ejection will result in, at minimum, a $1,000 fine; an ejection for leaving the bench during a fight carries at least a one-game suspension as well. In domestic games, refusing to leave after being ejected can result in a player being put on report. If being put on report does not provide enough encouragement for a player to leave the court, the official may award the game to the opposing team, regardless of score. Players who incur 16 technical fouls in a single NBA season are automatically suspended for one game; an additional suspension is imposed for each increment of two thereafter. Should a player receive the 16th technical foul in the last regular-season game, he will be suspended for the first game in the next season, unless if his team is in the playoffs, when he will be suspended for the first playoff game. In the playoffs, players are suspended if they receive seven technical fouls.
A significant rule change was made in 1981 whereby the NBA eliminated the ejection of a coach for three technical fouls caused by an illegal defense. Also, in the NBA ejections and suspensions are not permissible if a technical foul is caused by an excessive timeout, delay of game, accidental departure from the coach's box, the destruction of a backboard caused by a play (such as a dunk), defensive hanging on any part of the basket unit to successfully touch a ball (Rule 12), or any remaining in the game after six fouls when a team is out of players because of fouls, injuries, and ejections under Rule 3, Section I, paragraph b. These technical fouls are referenced as "Non-Unsportsmanlike Conduct Technical Fouls". The NBA all-time leader in disqualifications is Vern Mikkelsen, who was disqualified 127 times in 631 games.
In FIBA sanctioned games, a player is ejected for two technicals (since October 1, 2014), unsportsmanlike fouls or one disqualifying foul. Technical fouls in FIBA include swinging of elbows without contact and flopping, which are not fouls in the NBA. A coach can be ejected upon having incurred two coach technical fouls, or a combination of three bench and coach technical fouls. There is no separation regarding a "non-unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul," as in the NBA, so two delay of game violations result in an ejection.
In NFHS contests, ejected players must remain on the team bench, so that they may continue to be supervised by a coach or other adult team representative. If an adult team representative other than the head coach, such as an adult assistant coach, can provide supervision from the court and to the locker room for the duration of the contest, the player may leave the visual confines of the playing area with this representative.
In NCAA contests, ejected players are dismissed to the locker room; no adult supervision is required as NCAA players are assumed to be legally of adult age.
Basketball also features disqualification, also known as fouling out. A player who commits a certain number of personal fouls in a game (5 or 6 in most leagues), is removed from the game and is said to have "fouled out". Unlike ejection, disqualification is not considered a punitive action but rather a natural consequence of a very physical sport with many instances of contact. Disqualified players are permitted to remain on the bench with the team (instead of being sent to the locker room, as with an ejected player) and are not subject to any further penalties (such as fines or suspensions); they can resume play in their next game. In the NBA, a technical foul (which does not count towards suspension or ejection) is also assessed for re-entering a game after fouling out of a game in emergency situations listed in Rule 3, Section I when a team is reduced to five players. Once that occurs, a technical foul is charged if a player remains in the game after his sixth or subsequent foul, or as the last player to foul out, re-enters the game in case of injury to an eligible player that must be removed.
In baseball, each umpire has a considerable amount of discretion, and may eject any player, coach, or manager solely on his own judgment of unsportsmanlike conduct. The ejectable offense may be an excessively heated or offensive argument with an umpire, offensive interference (contact with the catcher on a play at the plate), malicious game play (especially pitchers attempting to intentionally strike batters with the ball or a manager or coach ordering a pitcher to do so), illegally applying a foreign substance to a bat or otherwise tampering with a ball (most famously, George Brett's Pine Tar Game), using a corked bat, charging the mound, or otherwise fighting. Between players and umpires, there is a common understanding that a certain level of argument is permitted, but players who too vigorously question an umpire's judgment of balls and strikes, or argue a balk, may risk an ejection. A player is also automatically ejected when a bat, glove, cap or helmet is taken off and thrown down in anger and/or confusion.
Persons other than players, coaches and managers, such as spectators, ballpark staff, or members of the media, may be ejected at an umpire's discretion. Depending on the circumstances, spectators who are ejected may also face arrest and prosecution. Bat boys and ball boys may be ejected for not wearing proper safety equipment.
In some cases, an ejection is followed by a fine or a suspension by the league if the player, or manager or coach, reacts in a very hostile manner towards the umpire. Also, any ejection for malicious game play will normally result in a suspension. Some managers will engage in arguments with umpires specifically to provoke an ejection, in hopes of inspiring a rally from their team. Former Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox holds the MLB record for most ejections with 161 while Hall of Fame umpire Bill Klem holds the record for most ejections by an umpire with 251. Baseball has a rich vocabulary for describing ejections: a player or coach may also be "run", "thrown out", "banned", "given the ol' heave-ho", "sent to the clubhouse", "hit the showers", "tossed", "kicked out", "dumped", "sent off", "pitched", "bounced out", "canned", "chucked", or "booted". The umpire can signal an ejection by pointing to the dugout or waving his arm toward the dugout in a “throwing” motion, usually yelling at the ejected person to leave. Fans of a home team usually cheer when a player from the visiting team is ejected. Managers or other players usually come out of the dugout and push the offending player away so as to keep them from getting into more trouble with the umpire. Managers often are simultaneously ejected when attempting to protect a player or otherwise leaving the dugout during play. Once an ejection is called, the ejected person and other associated people usually continue yelling at the umpire, with more anger. This is colloquially known as “getting your money’s worth”.
Any player or team official who commits a personal foul (i.e. striking, kicking, kneeing) against another player or team official, commits an act of unnecessary roughness against another player or team official, commits an act of unsportsmanlike conduct, or commits a palpably unfair act is liable to be disqualified from further participation if the act is found to be flagrant. Any player or team official who fights with another player or team official, leaves the bench to take part in a fight, intentionally makes contact with or assaults a game official, or uses any item of equipment as a weapon is automatically disqualified.
Compared to other American sports (perhaps with the exception of basketball), ejections in American football are relatively uncommon considering the physical nature of the sport. If a player or team official is disqualified, his/her team is assessed a 15-yard penalty, but if a player or team official is disqualified for a palpably unfair act, the distance or score penalty will be determined by the referee after consultation with the other officials.
The National Football League (NFL) made an experimental rule change on March 23, 2016 for the following season stating that two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on a player would result in an automatic ejection from the game. Some coaches have expressed concern that this could result in a player with one such penalty being goaded by the opposing team into a second penalty to get them removed from the game.
In high school football, a player or team official is automatically disqualified if he/she receives two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in the same game. In college football, a player is automatically disqualified if he/she is determined to have led with the crown of his/her helmet, or targeted a defenseless player in his/her head or neck area. In addition, if said infraction is committed in the second half of a game, the player is suspended for the first half of the following game.
In association football, a player is dismissed from the field of play by the referee showing him/her a red card if (s)he commits a dismissible offence or has committed a second cautionable (yellow card) offence having already received a yellow card in the same game. The act of ejection is referred to in the sport as "sending off".
A difference between being dismissed in association football and the above-mentioned sports is that in association football, a player may not be replaced, forcing his/her team to play a man down for the remainder of the match. Additionally, a dismissal in any professional league results in an automatic suspension of at least one match.
It is also possible for the manager or other team official to be "sent off", which requires him/her to leave his/her dugout and sit in the stands away from the touch line. This usually requires another member of the coaching staff to make decisions for the team, such as substitutes and formation. Also, depending upon the rules of the association presiding over the game, the manager or team official may not be allowed on the bench or to communicate with assistants for at least his/her team's next game.
If the same team has 5 players who have been "sent off", the match is then "abandoned", that is, the game no longer continues. The officials then file a game report with the appropriate league or association. The league or associatation then decides if a forfeit will be assessed and what the final score is recorded as.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most red cards administered in one game is 20, for a match between Paraguayan teams Sportivo Ameliano and General Caballero that broke down into a generalized brawl and was subsequently abandoned.
In all codes of rugby, a player may be temporarily suspended for a period of the match. In rugby union and rugby league, the standard suspension period is 10 minutes (out of an 80-minute game). This is generally referred to as a 'yellow card' as players are generally shown one in a manner similar to association football. Suspended players are said to be sent to the sin bin and is signalled by the referee showing two outstretched hands to the offender (rugby league) or by a yellow card (rugby union). In the Northern Hemisphere it is not uncommon for referees to use both red and yellow cards in rugby league, similar to rugby union.
In rugby union sevens, which normally lasts 14 minutes (20 in finals), the suspension period is 2 minutes. While eight minutes shorter than in fifteens, suspensions are more severe in sevens as one seventh of the team is out for one seventh of the match; this opens up more space than losing one fifteenth of the team for one eighth of the match.
Temporary suspensions are usually given for repeated infringements (by either the same player or team), professional fouls and foul play, such as high tackles. A player cannot be replaced while temporarily suspended, though may be at the conclusion of the suspension period. For more serious offences or a second infraction warranting a temporary suspension sanction, a player may be sent off for the rest of the game, with no replacement allowable.
Special conditions exist in rugby union for the replacement of a sinbinned or sent-off front-row forward.
Referees also have the power to send team officials to the stands, similar to that in football.
Prior to 2017, there was no provision in the Laws for a player to be ejected, although post-game disciplinary action could occur. There was however, provision in the Laws (Law 42 prior to 2017, now Law 41) for umpires to suspend a bowler from bowling in the remainder of his team's innings, detailed below.
The Laws of Cricket 2017 Code introduced a new Law (Law 42) dealing with players' conduct, as by then it was widely accepted that a need existed to provide the umpires with on-field sanctions for poor conduct, and that such sanction could lead to sending off for acts of violence. Under the new Law, four different levels of offences were created: a Level 3 offence (intimidating an umpire by language or gesture, or threatening to assault a player or any other person except an umpire) results in the offending player being suspended for a number of overs dependent on the length of the match, while a Level 4 offence (threatening to assault or making inappropriate or deliberate physical contact with an umpire, physically assaulting a player or any other person, or committing any other act of violence) results in the offending player being removed from the field for the remainder of the match.
In circumstances where a players' conduct offence of any level has been committed, the umpires will halt the game, summon the offending player's captain to the field, inform the captain of the breach of Law and the associated penalty and, in the cases of a Level 3 or Level 4 offence, instruct the captain to remove the offending player from the field. If the offending player's captain refuses to comply with an instruction to remove a player, the umpires will consider awarding the match to the opposition, or will abandon the match in a case where both captains are involved and both refuse to comply. Furthermore, any players' conduct offence will result in a report to the Executive of the offending player’s team and to any Governing Body responsible for the match who, as was the case in the prior Laws, may take additional disciplinary action after the match.
Additionally, the umpires have the power to eject a bowler from the team's bowling attack for the remainder of the innings (or in the case of a one-innings match or the second innings of a two-innings match, the remainder of the match) if the bowler, after having received one or two prior warnings (depending on prior offences), is guilty of throwing (law 21.3), ball-tampering (law 41.3), dangerous and unfair bowling (laws 41.6 to 41.8), time wasting (law 41.9) or running onto the protected area of the pitch (law 41.13). Any bowler who is guilty of deliberately bowling a high full-pitched ball (law 41.7) is automatically ejected. If a bowler is ejected, the umpires will direct the captain of the fielding team, once the ball is dead, to take the bowler off forthwith. If there is an over in progress when the bowler is ejected, it shall be completed by another bowler who shall neither have bowled the previous over nor be allowed to bowl the next over. The bowler thus ejected shall not bowl again in that innings.
In ice hockey, there are several types of ejections for penalties: a "game ejection", "game misconduct penalty", "match penalty", and formerly "gross misconduct penalty".
During games sanctioned by Hockey Canada, a "game ejection" is issued for three stick infraction penalties and is rather rare. These penalties include cross checking, high sticking, butt ending, slashing, and spearing.
A game misconduct penalty is usually issued against a player for unsportsmanlike play, escalating a fight, or leaving the penalty box before he has completed serving time for another penalty, although some major penalties carry an automatic game misconduct. If a player incurs three game misconducts in a season, (s)he will be given a one-match ban. The player must leave the ice immediately, and a substitute may take over. However, if any other penalties are incurred by the ejected player in the same incident, they must be served in the penalty box by the substituting player. By the USA Hockey rules a player can receive a game misconduct for violently checking an opponent into the boards from behind, or if the opponent's head strikes the boards or the goal frame as a result of the check from behind. It is also common knowledge that a player receive a game misconduct, regardless of the force of the hit, the second time (s)he checks an opponent from behind.
A match penalty is usually issued against a player for deliberately attempting to injure another player, such as stomping on him with his/her skate or a malicious hit. In addition to the offending player being immediately ejected (and usually subject to suspension), another player must serve a five-minute major penalty in the penalty box in addition to any other penalties imposed. The only exception is if a match penalty is against a goaltender, in which case the replacement goaltender can enter the ice immediately and a non-goaltender player serves the penalties. Match penalties may also be automatically flagged for review and supplementary discipline, depending on the league or association.
Prior to 2000, a gross misconduct was normally issued for an action far outside the normal level of acceptable behavior and was commonly given when a player has "made a travesty of the game".
An ejection is called for a hold, sink, or pullback by a defensive player. If a player commits a foul within 5 meters to the goal that prevents a probable goal the offense will be awarded a penalty shot. Ejections and penalties are also awarded due to interference of a play. For example, if an ordinary foul is called (one blast of whistle) and the defensive player continues to play on that player, an ejection will be awarded. If the player fails to make their way to the penalty box, the offensive team will be awarded a penalty shot. The replacement player may not join play until a change of possession, turnover or once 20 seconds elapse. Should the player acquire 3 personal fouls (penalties/ejections) the player must sit out for the remainder the game. Players in the water that acquire a misconduct (shown by circular hand motions by the referee) may no longer participate in the game and must sit out for the remainder of the game. Coaches and players on the bench may be removed by being awarded a red card. For Flagrant Misconducts and Brutalities the player may no longer participate for the remainder of the game, leave the playing area, and must face the consequences following their respective rulebook (NCAA, FINA, NFHS, etc.)
In field lacrosse, an ejection (expulsion foul) is issued for a severe penalty, such as fighting, leaving the bench to take part in a fight, malicious hits, deliberately attempting to injure another player, blatant fouls at the end of or immediately following a game, or, in high school, receiving two unreleasable unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Coaches and team officials can also be ejected for being caught using alcohol or tobacco during a game.
The team guilty of the expulsion foul must serve a three-minute non-releasable penalty, and the ejected player/coach/official is suspended for at least the next game.
Fouling out occurs if a player incurs five minutes of personal foul penalty time (I.e. slashing, illegal body check, tripping, unnecessary roughness, unsportsmanlike conduct, punishable by a one to three minute penalty), but does not result in a suspension from the next game.
Technical fouls do not count towards the five minutes; however a player may be called for unsportsmanlike conduct if they repeatedly commit the same technical foul, in which case it would count toward fouling out.
In some instances, a player or coach who is ejected must serve a suspension and may pay a fine. Often, the suspension is one game for the first offense, with harsher penalties depending on subsequent ejections and the severity of the offense. Sometimes in professional sports, a fine may be sanctioned against a player or coach.
Most NFHS contests require ejected players to remain in the team area, so they may be supervised by a responsible team adult, usually the head or assistant coach (as requiring a minor to leave an area unsupervised can lead to legal liabilities). If the player continues to be unruly, other solutions may be implemented such as requiring an assistant coach to leave the area with the player, handing the player over to the school administrator on duty, requiring the player's parents/legal guardians to take the player home, or more rarely, if the ejected player becomes violent, law enforcement to take them into custody.
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- "Rule 9.02(a)". Official Major League Rule Book. Major League Baseball. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
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- Marylebone Cricket Club. "Laws of Cricket 2000 Code, 6th Edition (2016)" (PDF). pp. 52–60. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-06-16.
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- "USA Hockey Rulebook" (PDF). USA Hockey. Retrieved 12 April 2013.