Ruling on the field – field fashion part 1

Nick ‘Willy Tee’ Wilson-Town and DC’s friendly neighbourhood zebra Simon Love team up to take us on a journey through rules of the game which we all claim to know… But actually don’t. Following on from the hot topic of exposed backplates being banned in the NCAA, this week our team take a look at the fervently debated topic of field fashion.


This week we’re looking at what you have to wear on a football field to be allowed to play… and then what you have to wear on a football field so as to ensure everyone knows you’re a ‘baller’.

There’s a lot to cover, so we’re going to look at this using a time-honoured tradition that was passed down to us by our forefathers:

Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

To keep things brief, this week we’ll keep things to the neck and upwards:


Ok, so here’s the gist: You don’t have these things, done this way, you ‘ent playing.

Your lid

  • It’s gotta have a facecage (duh)
  • And a four or six-point chinstrap
  • That chinstraps gotta be done up whenever the ball’s in play
  • Your lids gotta have that terrifying safety sticker on it that says it don’t protect from death and such. No, seriously, you’re lid’s not legal without that sticker or similar safety certification (1-4-4-f)
  • If you want a funky visor/eye shield, sadly it’s gotta be a clear one. The Zebras wanna be the coolest cats on the pitch so oh-so-badass tinted visors aren’t allowed. Ever. (1-4-6-c)
  • Nor can you have your do-rag on show. Your snoop impersonation has to be kept under wraps as your bandanna showing out from under your helmet’s not gonna sit well with the referoos. (1-4-4-j)
  • Oh and lastly in theory, though rarely in practice in my experience, y’all gotta have the same colour lids, decals and all… But I’m not sure I’ve yet seen this enforced over here, quite sensibly.


Your gum shield

  • Basically, so long as it’s actually in your mouth while you’re playing (as opposed to tucked in your helmet/pants/lying on the field somewhere) you’re good to go…
  • So long as it’s not white or transparent. (1-4-4-e)
  • Why? Well transparent’s not allowed so they can see it (especially if you’re choking on the damn thing), and I assume the white’s so they can tell the difference between your shield and your sparkling smile.


War paint

Believe it or not, this stuff’s supposed to serve a functional purpose of protecting you from glare… Cos, you know, it’s always brilliantly sunny over here in the UK… … …

Yeah, we’re aware you instead use it to ‘Braveheart’ yourself up, but careful cos there’s actually a fair few restrictions on blacking yourself up too much (no, not in a Julianne Hough way)

  • Eye shade has got to be solid black. (1-4-6-e) This means:
    – No words
    – No numbers
    – No logos or other symbols
  • Meaning all those cool things they do with eye black in football movies and the NFL? Yeah, you can’t do em.
  • Maybe you could try tattooing funky symbols on your face then I guess the ref’s gotta let you keep em…?


Don’t worry, there’s no restrictions on mohawks or awesometastic beards!!


Sigh… Got it. Basically, we can’t have fun above the neck… But say I wanted to anyways…?

The way it works, and this’ll be the case across all our field fashion articles, is that no player is allowed to participate in a live play with ‘illegal equipment’ – so anything that doesn’t stick to the stuff above.

If a player knowingly does so, it’ll cost their team a time out.

Once all three of a team’s time outs for a half have disappeared, you’re looking at a 5 yard ‘delay of game’ for each down a player with illegal kit participates – if noticed pre snap, the play will be whistled dead and the equipment issue must be resolved before the next snap.

Never fear though, if your kit goes from legal to illegal during the play that’s not a problem so long as it’s rectified by the start of the next down – the fashion police accept that this is a rough and tumble sport!


We’ll be delving into some of the most commonly controversial and misinterpreted areas of the game in the weeks to come, or if there’s an area of the game that’s particularly grinding your gears let us know in the comments and through the DC social media so ‘Ruling on the field’ can take a look at it for you.




Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1