Tuesday, October 11, 2011

9.2.1.1 The referees are responsible for determining that both teams have the correct number of skaters in the jam, taking into account skaters in the penalty box. (See Section 2.4.4 for details on starting with too few skaters.)

A subrule of yesterday's Rule of the Day, which explained that officials assess team readiness at the jam start, today's rule explains that referees determine if the teams have the correct number of skaters on the track and also in the penalty box. Now, most might think the correct number of skaters per team is 4 Blockers and a Jammer. As far as the rules are concerned that is incorrect. The actual correct number is a maximum of 4 Blockers and one Jammer, and a minimum of one Blocker on the track. This is outlined in Section 3 - Players, and also rule 4.1.1.3. That is why the last part of today's rule references a team starting with too few skaters. Rule 2.4.4 explains that if a jam starts with less than the maximum number of skaters from one or both teams on the track, then those skaters may not join the jam after the jam start whistle. So if a team has only 3 Blockers and and a 4th skating on the outside of the track to get to the rest of her team, and the jam start whistle blows before she enters the track, that 4th Blocker may not skate in that jam. This is made worse when the Jammer is the one to not make it to the track in time for the jam start. It is also important to note that Jammers are ineligible to enter the jam after the first jam start whistle. They do not get until the Jammer start whistle to enter the track. If a skater enters the track after the jam start whistle she will be directed back to her bench with a hand signal and verbal cue (found in the WFTDA officiating documents) but she will not receive a penalty.

In cases where a team starts a jam with more than the maximum allowed number of Blockers, the extra skater(s) will be sent back to their bench and issued a penalty. That will be covered as tomorrow's Rule of the Day.

As mentioned earlier, the minimum number of skaters required is one Blocker from each team on the track. Blockers in the penalty box do not count towards this minimum as they are not able to form a pack. If a team begins a jam with no Blockers on the track, the jam must be called off immediately, as forming a pack will be impossible. At this point there are few schools of thought as to how to deal with the situation. My personal preferred method would be to issue an Illegal Procedure major to the team who failed to field any Blockers, and it would be given to the Captain, since no Blockers means no active Pivot to default to. To me, this penalty would be justified as their actions as a team had a major impact on the game, much like a team failing to remove an extra Blocker and causing the jam to be called off. If the same team were to fail to field Blockers again in the next jam I would declare a forfeit, per 9.2.7.1.2. I would, of course, let the team know after the initial major that failure to field a team in the next jam would result in a forfeit. Others have suggested charging a timeout to the offending team on the first offense, but I disagree with this because team timeouts are taken at the request of teams with a hand signal. Referees are not able to take away a team's timeouts by choice. Another option I have heard is the same initial penalty as I outlined above, however without the forfeit for continued offense, but rather a major each time the offense took place. Personally I find that to be contrary to 9.2.7.1.2 and don't agree with that approach. There are also others, albeit very few, who suggest no recourse at all. Considering the role of impact in the WFTDA rules, it seems logical that an action that is contrary to the rules (having less than one Blocker on the track) that has a major impact on the game (jam is called off) be penalized with a major penalty. Hopefully in a future version of the rules a penalty for this offense will be enumerated.

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