The answer, it seems, isn’t going to be very clear until the second-biggest league in the world decides to implement a penalty. For now, it’s best to treat it as a nuisance and move on.
A team will be penalized by an official if its players throw the ball into the stands after the score is over. The penalty is assessed if the ball lands in the outfield or in the stadium’s net. For the record, it’s not even a fine — just the opportunity to throw the ball out to the side:
The penalty is reviewed by two officials before it’s carried out. It’s never allowed to go unpenalized, and it’s difficult to say if it will ever be. That said, it seems to be the most common penalty handed out on the field, especially when a team has a great lead and the opposition scores quickly. Teams can also be penalized for being hit by the ball:
And a team that throws the ball into the stands is also subject to a fine. We’re not sure which officials are using the fines or what type of penalty they’re applying, but it seems they’re targeting the most egregious cases where the ball has been ejected.
A fan could also be penalized for not waiting for the team to score or for being disrespectful to the ref:
A fan may be fined for throwing the ball onto the field after a stoppage in play and for getting too close to the official or for being seen hitting the official or hitting someone else’s face.
The penalties aren’t actually in any way random. Every player and coach who throws the ball will get a $500 fine, and the fans who throw the ball in the stands are liable for a $250 fine. We’re not sure on a penalty for fans who are not ejected.
So does this mean that after this season, every fan — even those who don’t bother to watch the game — will be going into the press box and being told to “watch your language.” If it does, be sure to ask them to explain yourself. Maybe there’s actually something to it.
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