Two to three officials—a referee, umpire, and field judge—usually govern the game to ensure fair and safe play. Any violation of the rules results in a penalty. A player called for a foul is sent to the penalty box and his team must play without that player, or man down, until the penalty is over or the opposition scores.
If the defensive team commits a penalty when the opposing team has the ball, play is allowed to continue until the opponent loses possession of the ball, at which time the penalty is enforced. This delayed penalty is called a slow whistle and allows the offense to maintain its advantage.
Personal fouls, such as slashing, tripping, cross checking, unnecessary roughness, and unsportsmanlike conduct are major violations. The official determines the length of the penalty, which ranges from one to three minutes.
Technical fouls are minor infractions that lead to a 30-second penalty. These fouls include crease violation, offsides, interference, holding, illegal screens, illegal procedure, stalling, and warding off. A player is ejected from the remainder of the game if he commits five fouls.
Additionally, players can be ejected from the game for fighting, playing too violently, or arguing with an official.