Friday, January 13, 2012

‎ The official period clock must be highly visible to referees, teams and fans.

Today's rules is one that very commonly tends to get misunderstood, misinterpreted, and incorrectly put into practice. I'm going to explain how this rule works but I'm going to start with the simple part of it.

The period clock must be highly visible to referees, teams and fans. It must be visible to referees because refs need to know the game time. The most important time for a referee to see the clock is the last 30 seconds of a period, so that they don't call an Official Timeout with 30 seconds left on the period clock. Teams obviously need to know the game time because even though are competing against each other, ultimately they are also competing against the clock. Fans need to know the game time because otherwise it is just a seemingly endless period. Without context (a 30 minute period/half) then each jam loses its importance. So there is no question, the period clock MUSt be highly visible to all these people. It may be a scoreboard in the venue, such as a lighted scoreboard in a hokey or basketball arena. It may be on a projected scoreboard, or even projected on its own. It may even be a small LED scoreboard on the sidelines. So long as it his highly visible to all the listed people then it is in accordance with the rules. There is actually no official NSO position listed in the rules for the period clock operator. I can only imagine that this is to allow leagues the latitude of having whichever type of visible clock as works for them, and allowing it to operated appropriately. Certainly a scoreboard operator can run the period clock if the scoreboard includes it, whereas a separate clock operator would be required for a projected clock.

Now, about the "official" status. What this rule means by saying the "official period clock" must be highly visible means that the clock that is visible is the official period clock. That means that if there is any question about the game time, or any discrepancy with any other clock, the time on the visible period clock is what is official, and supersedes all other clocks. If the jam timer also happens to be timing the period time on a stopwatch and their clock says that a jam ended with 32 seconds left in the period, but the official clock says that there are only 29 seconds left, then the referees may not call an Official Timeout, as the official clock has less than 30 seconds on it. In a situation like that the jam timer would need to alter the time left on their own stopwatch to be synchronized with the official period clock. About the only time that the official period clock is adjusted is when a timeout is signaled and the period clock operator takes time to actually stop the clock. Usually this is noticed by the jam timer or a referee and will result in a few seconds being out back on the clock. Although there is no actual rule that explains to correct the clock time, the rules do mention that once a timeout is signaled by a team, or for an Official Timeout, the officials signal for the clock to stop. Therefore, if the clock does not actually stop it is not contrary to the rules to adjust the clock time back to when the signal was given for it to stop.

The official nature of the visible period clock must be understood and respected. If the clock being used has a malfunction that may affect the game then an alternate clock should be used. I have heard of venue scoreboards being used for the period clock but stopping just before hitting zero so as to avoid the buzzer that usually accompanies these scoreboards counting down to zero (as derby is unique in that the game keeps going past the period clock reaching zero). In a situation like that if the period clock was stopped with even a few tenths of a second still on it and after the jam ended a team called a timeout, then another jam would have to be run since there was technically still time on the official period clock.