Wednesday, November 30, 2011

‎3.5.7 A star pass may be blocked by the opposing team by any means of legal blocking.

During a star pass the only people eligible to touch the Jammer helmet cover are the Jammer and Pivot. The Blockers on their team may not hand it off between them, and the opposing team skaters may not touch it either. They may only use legal blocking to block a star pass. Legal blocking in this case would be any legal contact from a legal blocking zone to a legal target zone. You know, regular blocking. If a Jammer is about to hand her helmet cover to her Pivot and an opponent legally hip checks her, sending the helmet cover flying, that is perfectly legal. If the opponent grabs the helmet cover and skates away, well, she's certainly going to receive an Illegal Procedure major.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

‎ Jammers may transfer the star upon returning to play from the penalty box.

As mentioned yesterday, once a Jammer has returned to the track from the penalty box and is in play she may pass the star to the Pivot. She may not pass the star while she in the penalty box (3.5.1) or in route to the box (

Monday, November 28, 2011

‎ Jammers may not transfer the star while in route to or while in the penalty box.

Once a Jammer has been signaled to the penalty box (considered "in the box" per she is in route to the box. At that point if the Jammer passes the star it is considered an illegal star pass, which may not be complete, per The question the becomes what exactly happens to the inactive Jammer and the Pivot in possession of the Jammer helmet cover? That is easily answered with a WFTDA Q&A.

The Q&A explains that the now inactive Jammer (inactive because they removed their helmet cover and gave it to the Pivot) goes to penalty box as an inactive Jammer, and the Pivot may not put the Jammer helmet cover on her head. If she does, a referee will tell her to remove it. If he does not do so then she will receive an Insubordination major penalty. Once the Jammer's penalty is over and she has returned to the track she may retrieve the helmet cover from the Pivot and replace it on her helmet becoming active again. If the Jammer was sent to the box after having made a legal pass to the Pivot but before the Pivot placed the helmet cover on her helmet, then the Pivot also has the choice to place the helmet cover on her helmet once the Jammer has returned to the track. If the jam ends with the inactive Jammer still in the penalty box, one of her teammates may bring her the Jammer helmet cover and she will be active in the next jam.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

3.5.3 The initiator of the star pass is always responsible for the legality of the star pass.

Much like a block, the skater who does the act of passing the star is the initiator. This means, if a Jammer takes off her helmet cover and passes it illegally to the Pivot, either by throwing it or by handing it to the Pivot while the Pivot is out of play, the Jammer is the initiator and will receive an Illegal Procedure major for violation of the star pass procedure, per 6.13.20. Now, if the Pivot were to remove the Jammer's helmet cover from the Jammer's helmet, the Pivot would be considered the initiator of the illegal star pass and be the one to receive the major penalty.

Now, there's a situation where I interpret the rules a certain way, but I fully admit there's the possibility of me being wrong. Not because I'm interpreting the words wrong, but simply because the rules may not have meant to be interpreted this way. Regardless, unless corrected, this is the interpretation I go by. The situation is if the Pivot picks up the Jammer helmet from the ground.

There's two ways this can happen, the Jammer drops the Jammer helmet cover from their hand or the Jammer helmet cover ends up on the ground by other means. If the Jammer drops the Jammer helmet cover on the track and the Pivot picks it up while out of the engagement zone, that is an illegal star pass (3.5.1), and the Jammer is the initiator and will go to the box. If the Jammer helmet cover falls off of the Jammer's helmet onto the track and the Pivot picks it up outside of the engagement zone, the Pivot is the initiator and will go to the box. The Pivot being the initiator would also apply if the Jammer's helmet cover is removed by any other means except her taking it off herself. I find the first scenario unfortunate because the Pivot can cause the Jammer to go to the box without the Jammer performing and wrongdoing, and that is why I believe there is a possible different intended interpretation to this rule. However, the rules as written do support my interpretation. I am certainly open to being corrected on this, as issuing that penalty would be a nightmare, since the referees would have to know who did what, when and where. I would prefer that the rules require the Pivot to be penalized if they pick up the helmet cover illegally in all circumstances, but that isn't currently how it is.

Friday, November 25, 2011

‎ Exclusively use a skater’s team color and charter number for calling penalties on that skater.

The last subrule of the "Referees will" section, today's rule is one I've referenced during discussions about skater numbers. This is the rule that requires referees to refer to skaters by their number and not their name. This is because names are optional whereas numbers are required (3.7.3 and 3.7.4). So as mentioned before when a referee is signaling a penalty on a skater they must use her team color (the base color of her team's uniform) and her skater number. Going back to previous discussions, and to assuage any misunderstanding on this subject, if a skater has chosen a skater number that includes letter (allowed by the rules per then both the numerical and alphabetic characters must be used when calling that skater's number. That means that if a skater named "Hamburger Patty" chose the skater number "B33F" a referee must call her by the full number. The preferred method, albeit not standard, is to call each character out. So she would be called as "bee-three-three-eff". Calling her "beef" would be ignoring the 3's in the number. An acceptable call would be "bee-thirty three-eff" as that would calling the skater's number.

As well, to clear up other possible confusion, where this rule references charter number and section 3.7.4 discusses skater or player number, all of these are the same thing. A charter is a 20 skater roster submitted by WFTDA member leagues every quarter for sanctioned games. Thus, for WFTDA sanctioned games a skater's number must also match her team's charter. For non-WFTDA sanctioned games the number that a skater displays on the back of her jersey is her skater number, which is what also must appear on her arms/sleeves, on all tracking sheets, and is the number that today's rule requires referees to use.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

‎ Whistle, hand signal and vocally call out all major penalties.

The first responsibility under " Referees will:". This is what referees must do when calling a major penalty. There will be a whistle, a hand signal, and a verbal cue. the whistle will be a single long whistle blast, per section 2.9 Whistles. The hand signal will follow those in the WFTDA Referee Hand Signals document. The verbal cue will follow the WFTDA Officiating Verbal Cues document, and will be split in two parts. The first part is the order or the verbal cue, while the second is the type of penalty.

For a major penalty, following a single long whistle blast, a referee will announce the penalized skater's team color, then her skater number, the type of penalty she is being penalized for, followed by the word "major". All major penalties will be signaled with the word "major". Referees may not assume that a skater understood it was a major because of the whistle blast.

The type of penalty must also be included. The phrases to be used for the type of penalty are listed in the Officiating Verbal Cues document. Most penalty types are called out as they are listed in the rules, such as "Cutting the track" or "Multiple player block". Direction of Gameplay, Out Of Play and Illegal Procedure penalties all have multiple penalties listed in the document and are to be called specifically. "Failure to reform" penalties are not to be called as "Out of play". The reason referees are to use these specific verbal cues is to provide skaters with adequate information as to why they received a penalty. After all, referees are there for the skaters, and skaters need to know why they received a penalty.

So, to sum up, when a referee calls a major penalty it will sound like:

TWEEEET "Pink 360 destroying the pack major"

It will be accompanied by the Out of Play penalty hand signal followed by the major penalty hand signal.

Again, today's rule falls under the "Referees will" heading. This procedure is what must be followed. There is no excuse for sloppiness either. Referees should be practicing proper hand signals as well as clear and loud verbal cues, and clear and loud whistles. For those who wonder if they are performing the penalty call procedure signal correctly watch a bout with high level certified referees and compare their actions to yours.

Monday, November 21, 2011 Referees will:

This week will focus on some referee responsibilities. Now, as you can see, today's says "referees will". It does. It say "referees may" or "referees can choose to" or "if referees feel like it". The use of "will" means the following subrules are what referees will always do. No matter what. If you are an official and working with a referee who does do what this week's rules say that they will, a kind reminder that they "will" is a good idea. Now, if you're a skater and the referees are not doing what the rules say they will, and you happen to be penalized for it, again a kind reminder that these rules say "will" and not "may" will go a long way. I do emphasize, however, that reminders ought to be kind. Kindness goes farther.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

‎ A team’s jersey numbers are of high contrast if there is a large degree of visual difference between the color of the number and the base color of the jersey such that the number significantly stands out from the base color of the jersey.

Late rule post tonight! I'm on my way home from a derby tournament (sadly, not Champs) but I wanted to finish off skater number week so we can start a new set of rules tomorrow. So, today's rule is the last in the subset of skater numbers. Where Friday's rule required skater numbers on uniforms to be of high contrast beyond a reasonable doubt, this rule explains what that means. While talk of what contrast is and color values (and the related visual aids posted by Bryn in Friday's comment thread - check them out!) is important, what matter most is that the skater number stand out significantly from the base color of the uniform. Of course, that is definitely where color values come into play. Two colors may be completely different, but if their value is the same, they won't really stand out from each other. A color's value is basically how light or dark is it. Green is green. But green with a higher value is lighter, while green with a lower value is darker. A light green on a dark green will stick out better than a blue on green that have both the same color value. That is why the rules require high contrast, not just different colors.

Friday, November 11, 2011

‎ A team’s jersey numbers must meet the definition of high contrast beyond a reasonable doubt or the Head Referee shall request that the team provide an alternative that meets the definition.

Having finished the rules that govern what a skater's number may be, today's rule explains that a skater's number on her jersey must be of high contrast to the jersey itself. The point of this rule is so the number is easily readable by referees. High contrast does not necessarily mean "opposite" colors. Black and white, considered to be opposites, contrast well, but so may a light and dark version of the same color. The idea is that a referee glancing quickly at a skater's jersey will have no trouble reading the number. As the rule states, and as is true for all rules concerning uniforms and skater numbers, if a color scheme does not provide high contrast beyond a reasonable doubt, then the Head Referee of the game may request an alternative to that color scheme. If alternative jersey are unavailable that team (or individual skaters) won't be allows to play in the game.

For teams that are planning to purchase new uniforms for all players, it is a good idea just to check with a few referees before doing so and get two or three opinions before spending any money.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

‎ Players on the same team may not have identical numbers. For example, two players may not both wear L5, but one may wear L5 and another may wear J5.

Today's rule is sort of a culmination of the last few days' rules. told us how long a number can be (up to 4characters). told us what the characters may (alphanumeric, letters and numbers). told us that a number on a jersey may have small characters preceding and/or following it (but are not considered part of the number). Today's rule explains exactly why a skater number is officially what it is. I know that phrase is a little odd so let me explain.

Over the past few days there have been more than a few people who have explained that it was their understanding that if a skater chose a number with letters in it then the letters were ignored by the officials in a game. A couple examples would be a skater with the number "H3RO" on her jersey would be called as "3", or a skater with "L1F3" on her jersey would be called as "13". The truth behind this understanding is that it is definitively FALSE. I've made that word all capitals so the point gets across. Ignoring a part of a skater's number, provided that number is legal is wrong. Very wrong. Today's rule proves it.

In today's rule two examples of numbers that are considered unique are given, "L5" and "J5". If the letter portions of skater numbers were to be ignored, then both those skater numbers would be "5" and there can't be two of the same number on a team, per today's rule and also 3.7.4. Therefore, "J5" is called "J5" and "L5" is called "L5". Similarly, "H3R0" would be called "H-3-R-0". Why not call it as "hero"? That's been another common question this week, so let me explain that one too.

There is one rule that clearly tells officials how they must refer to skaters: Referees will: Exclusively use a skater’s team color and charter number for calling penalties on that skater.

When a referee calls a penalty on a skater they must use her number. In the case of a skater with the number "H3R0" her number is "H-3-R-0" not "hero". If a ref says "hero" they are ignoring the two numerical digits in the number (or possibly just one if you consider "oh" is an accepted pronunciation for the number zero). Thus if a ref were trying to send this skater to the penalty box by calling "hero" she would not have to go there since her number is not the one being called.

It has also been asked if there is a standard way for an official to pronounce a skater's number. The answer is no. In some cases there is only one way, such as a skater with the number "K1D", which must be called "kay-one-dee" so as to call the actual number as writ. Now, cases where multiple pronunciations exist, all correct ones are acceptable. With the skater number "B00B" (you know someone's got it) an official could say "bee-oh-oh-bee", "bee-zero-zero-bee", "bee-double oh-bee" or "bee-double zero-bee" and be correct. Of course, for consistency sake, more and more refs are moving to a system of calling a number by each character. Thus, "H3R0" gets called as "aytch-three-arr-zero". This way, while in some cases not the easiest or most efficient, is undoubtedly the most accurate way to call a skater by her number.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

‎ A player may have small characters preceding or following her player number on her jersey e.g. 55 mph, where “mph” is considerably smaller than 55. These small characters are not considered part of the skater’s number and they may not inhibit the legibility of the player’s number whatsoever. The maximum size for the small characters is two (2) inches.

Today's rule is a favorite among skaters with "vanity" numbers. Those would be numbers that add to their derby name. An example would be a skater named "Highway to Helen" (if this is a real name, it is pure coincidence as I just made it up) whose number is "55mph". Obviously this not a legal number, thanks to, which was covered on Monday, as it has more than four characters. However, rather than abandon the number altogether, Helen may opt to make her number "55" officially, and on her jersey she can put "mph" after the number, so long as the letters are 2 inches or less in height. Extra letters, numbers, symbols, pictures, or anything else really, may be added to a skater's jersey so long as all of those items are:
- less than 2 inches in height.
- come only before and/or after the number, and not in between.
- are not included when officials refer to the skater number.

Those three above points are not debatable. All extra characters must be 2 inches or less, or else they will be considered part of the skater's number, which may make the number, and this the uniform, illegal. The extra characters may ONLY be placed before and/or after the skater's number. A skater may not use the number "20/20" because the slash is not before or after, but rather in the middle of the number. Finally, officials may not use the extra characters when referring to a skater with them on her jersey. A skater with "$1MIL" on her jersey will still be referred to as "1MIL", provided the "$" is less than 2 inches.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

‎ A player’s number must be alphanumeric with at least one numerical digit. For example: L5 is an acceptable number, but LV is not. Numbers cannot contain symbols.

Today's rule has two parts to it. The easier part to explain is that each skater's number must have at least one numerical digit. If a skater wants to use "HERO" as their number, they would have to use "H3RO", "HER0", or a combination of the two. At least one numerical digit keeps it a number (at least that's what I tell myself). I really don't know why skater numbers must have a numerical digit, but they must.

The other part to this rule is that characters in a skater number must be alphanumeric, with no symbols. For those who like to stretch the bounds of rules, alphanumeric means 0-9, a-z, and A-Z. Wikipedia has a great article on alphanumeric.

This was done because there used to be all kinds of ridiculous numbers in roller derby. I used to peruse Twoevils and laugh. One time I swear I saw the number "&1&2&3&4&5&6". Can you imagine a referee trying to call a penalty on her during a bout? Let alone, how would she fit that on her arm? And that brings up the mention of symbols. If a character is not alphanumeric then it is a symbol. Since alphanumeric includes Latin letters and Arabic digits, letters and numbers from other languages or alphabets are allowed. Yes, lambda is a letter, but it is Greek and therefore not considered alphanumeric. The infinity symbol is just that, a symbol. Same with the at symbol.

So to sum up, skater numbers may be four characters maximum (if that is news to you, see yesterday's rule), made of alphanumeric characters only, and one of them must be a numerical digit.

Monday, November 7, 2011

‎ A player’s number may contain up to four characters.

Last week I covered a bunch of uniform rules. This week I will be covering the rest of the rules that pertain to skater numbers.

Today's rule is very straightforward. A legal skater number is four character long max. It may be less than four, but not more. Wednesday's rule will explain that extra characters may be allowed on a jersey that would make the number look larger than four characters but a skater's number, what is communicated to her and used on all official tracking sheets, may be no more than four characters.

Friday, November 4, 2011

‎ A player’s number must be of a readable font. A number is of readable font if it can be easily read and distinguished from the other players’ numbers by the officials, other players, and fans.

Today's rule is crucial to follow. Granted, I say that as a referee who has had to try and decipher many skater numbers off jerseys, but that's part of the rule. Referees must be able to read every skater's number clearly and quickly. Same goes for all officials, fans, announcers, the opposing team, etc. Thus, the readable font rule was added a couple versions ago. However, this rule also requires numbers to be distinguishable from other skaters. That means that the skater with number 6B should not be confused with number 68. Number A55 must clearly have two numerical digits. It must be recognized that letters and numbers may look alike and so care should be taken to select a font that does not cause a problem.

As with all uniform rules, a skater who has an improper uniform is not disqualified from playing the game, only her uniform is. But if a skater doesn't have a backup uniform that adheres to the rules, she will not be able to play in the game.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

‎ The print of the number should be at least four (4) inches tall, so that it is legible and large enough to be read by officials who are positioned anywhere within the track or on its boundary.

This rule is kind of tricky, but only thanks to language. In all sorts of rules, regulations, laws, codes, standards and other documents of the like, the words "should" and "may" allow the choice of following that particular clause while the words "shall" and "must" denote requirements that absolutely have to be followed. So it would seem that the part of today's rule which says that numbers "should be at least four (4) inches tall" may be optional. However, the only two other places that the rules use the word "should" is in rules that are clearly not optional ( and 4.1.2). Therefore, inconsistent language aside, the requirement for numbers on skaters' uniform to be at least 4 inches tall is just that: a requirement.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

‎3.7.4 Each skater participating in a bout must visibly display a unique (with relation to her own team) number on the back of her uniform.

Today's rule explains that numbers are required. 3.7.3, which was covered back in April, explains that names are optional. Numbers are not optional. This is because officials use a player's number exclusively to communicate penalties and other instructions (per And since numbers are used exclusively, skaters must not share a number with anyone else on their team. Similar numbers, while not particularly pleasant to officials, are legal. For example, a team may have a 12, a 112, and a 0112. Annoying? Yes. Legal? Yes. So long as a skater's number is unique compared to her team then she is fine. Two teams may have the exact same numbers as each other and that is still legal, so long as each team has no number repeats.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

‎ All uniforms shall be in good repair and shall not cause a hazard to other skaters. All patches and numbers must be securely fastened to said uniform. Safety pins are not permitted.

Today's rule is a pretty simple one, yet a very good one to remember. The second part of it is very commonly known and pretty logical as well. Safety pins pose a threat of safety to others as they can open up on contact. Any skaters wearing a jersey with a temporary number (and name) patch on the back should attach it with a few temporary stitches. Tape, Velcro, and other similar methods are unreliable, while pins and staples are unsafe. In regards to the first part of this rule, while uniforms being in good repair is not typically an issue, making sure they don't pose a hazard threat may be. I have personally learned from experience that during safety equipment checks I look for items on a skater's uniform that may be cause a hazard. The most common I come across now are loose or loosely tied bandanas that skaters use as sweat rags. I make sure there are tied securely to a skater or their uniform as I have seen more than a couple fall on the track mid-jam. Belts may be an issue, if they have any attachments on them that could be harmful to others. For the most part I am ok with studded belts, but some border on being spiked, and I won't allow spiked anything in a bout. Other items that can be looked for but aren't as prevalent nowadays are various animal ears, devil horns, small stuffed animals, and other such items affixed to helmets. These should be checked for both integrity of adhesive, and also that they don't pose a safety threat even while attached to the helmet. While some skaters like to accessorize their uniform with various objects, safety is definitely the first priority.