Monday, February 27, 2012

‎6.5.3 During forearm contact between skaters, the following are indications that a push has occurred:

All too often during a bout you hear people say “what about that forearm, ref!” or “not calling the forearms today?”, or any other similar sentiment. Skaters, fans, and all kinds of other people get upset about supposed missed forearm penalty calls. Today’s rule explains that there are indicators that referees use to determine if an illegal forearms action has occurred. Both indications will be covered the next couple of days. What can be gleaned from this rule is that referees don’t simply look at contact from a forearm to an opponent and immediately deem it to be illegal.

Friday, February 24, 2012

‎6.12.8 Not applicable.

Today’s rule is the Skating Out Of Bounds expulsion section. The past couple days I covered Skating Out Of Bounds minors. Previously I have covered the one type of SOOB major. As can be seen by this rule, there is no way to be expelled for Skating Out Of Bounds.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

‎6.12.6 Skating out of bounds to maintain or increase speed.

Today’s rule, a Skating Out Of Bounds minor, is one that has been misinterpreted by many in the past. Thankfully, the WFTDA has given us an official Publication to go by so this rule has become much less confusing.

Previously, the misinterpretation was that this penalty was applied while a skater was out of bounds, if she was maintaining or increasing speed. It is now understood that is penalty is to be applied when a skater put herself out of bounds. An example of a skater maintaining speed by skating out of bounds is a Jammer who is rounding a turn too fast and ends up out of bounds. She would given a Skating Out Of Bounds minor, thanks to this rule. If a skater is at the front of a pack and leaves the track so she can skate clockwise while out of bounds to get to the back of the pack, she will be given a SOOB minor. What the WFTDA Publication makes clear is that this penalty is applied when a skater skates TO out of bounds, not WHILE out of bounds. The Publication makes clear skaters who put both of their skates out of bounds will be given a SOOB minor. What it doesn’t say directly is what to do about skaters who put themselves into a straddling position, which is technically out of bounds. The Publication includes a sentence that helps understand how to handle straddling skaters:

“Although straddling skaters per 6.11.5 are permitted to completely exit the track in order to attempt to avoid a cutting the track penalty skaters who put themselves into a straddling position are still subject to Skating Out of Bounds Penalties.”

This makes it clear that skaters who put themselves into a straddling position are not given a Skating Out Of Bounds penalty until they go completely out of bounds. There are many referees who may be reading this thinking that they’ve never, or very rarely, given a penalty for this action. There may be many, many skaters who may be thinking that they’ve never, or very rarely, received a penalty for this action. The fact is, this action merits a penalty. After all, section 6.12 starts out by saying, “Skaters must remain in bounds”. So if a skater goes out of bounds, for any reason not outlined in the rules as excepted, then she must be penalized.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

‎6.12.5 Skating out of bounds in an attempt to avoid a block.

This is the first of the Skating Out Of Bounds minor penalties. It pretty much explains itself. As stated a few times before, Skating Out Of Bounds penalties are applied when a skater leaves the track of her own accord, as the rules state that skaters must stay in bounds. There are specific exceptions that allow skaters to leave the track without penalty, some of which have been recently been covered. However, in most other cases, skaters must not skate out of bounds on their own. So, if a skater is skating along a track boundary and sees an opponent coming in to block her, and she steps out of bounds to make herself ineligible to be blocked, she will be given a minor penalty. This penalty may only be applied when it is determined that a skater went out of bounds to avoid a block, and not if she went out of bounds for a legal reason. Oddly, because “out of bounds” is defined as touching any part of the ground outside of the track boundaries, a skater may receive a skating out of bounds penalty while still being able to be blocked, if she skates to a straddling position, as straddling skaters are able to be engaged.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

6.12.4 Exiting the track as a result of injury, equipment failure, or to avoid unsafe track conditions including but not limited to fallen skaters, debris and spills.

Today’s rule is the last of the no impact/no penalty rules in the Skating Out Of Bounds section. As covered in a few previous rules, skaters may not skate out of bounds, except in specific situations. Most of these situations are covered in the SOOB no impact/no penalty section. So, according to this rule, if a skater leaves the track of her own accord because she is injured, because of an equipment failure, or to avoid an unsafe track condition, she will not receive a Skating Out Of Bounds penalty. Now, just because she may exit the track without being penalized, under these circumstances, that doesn’t mean she may return bettering her position. If a skater exits the track to avoid a fallen skater, for example, she may not return in front of an in play skater who was ahead of her when she left the track. Of course, fallen skaters are out of bounds so passing them while out of bounds is not considered Cutting the Track.

Monday, February 20, 2012

‎6.12.2 Skating out of bounds as the result of a missed or successful block. (Blocking out of bounds criteria still apply; see Section 6.8 Out of Bounds Blocking).

Today’s rule comes from the no impact/no penalty section of Skating Out Of Bounds. If a skater goes for a hit, whether she makes contact or completely misses, she does not get a penalty if the result is putting herself out of bounds. I have been asked before about how to tell if a missed block was actually an attempt at a block. The best answer I can give to that question is that, like many other types of calls a referee may or may not make in a game, this is a situation-specific call, and comes down to whether the referee seeing the action determines whether the skater actually attempted a block. Of course, if it is determined that no block was actually attempted and that a skater put herself out of bounds, she will be given a Skating Out Of Bounds minor.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

6.14.5 Deliberate and excessive insubordination to a referee.

Today's rule pretty much explains itself. I explained a couple days ago that a skater will get an Insubordination major for failing to comply with a referee's orders. If that skater continues to fail to comply, deliberately so, she will be expelled from the game. Again, like with an Insubordination major, this penalty will not be issues to a skater mouthing off to a referee.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

6.14.4 Willfully failing to leave the floor after fouling out.

This rule is an Insubordination expulsion. It is kind of an odd one. After all, if a skater has fouled out of a game, how can she then receive an expulsion? I can’t honestly answer this question. The only explanation I can personally come up with is that an expulsion is greater punishment than fouling out, which could happen as the result of 28 minors, while expulsions only happen from serious offenses. So, while the result is still the same, the skater is removed from the game, it would be recorded that she was expelled at the end. Of course, I’m not sure how that would be done, since a fouled out skater is no longer in the game, and thus can’t actually receive a penalty. I do see this rule making clear the point that skaters must leave the game floor after fouling out.

Monday, February 6, 2012

‎6.14.1 Intentionally committing an illegal procedure is not insubordination and must not be penalized as such.

Today’s rule may seem odd to some, but if you look at the wording of the other penalty sections, you’ll notice it makes sense. In all the penalty sections that involve contact (Low Blocking, Illegal Use of Forearms, Out Of Bounds Blocking, etc) the language used in the expulsion section includes the word “intentional”. This means in most cases, an intentional penalty will get a skater expelled from a game, generally speaking. The penalty sections that don’t use “intentional” include Cutting The Track, since Cutting is penalized based on number of skaters cut; Skating Out Of Bounds, since SOOB penalties are given when intentional; and Misconduct, since Misconduct penalties are only majors. The Gross Misconduct section uses “intentional” but that’s because Gross Misconducts are all expulsions. The Illegal Procedures section doesn’t use the word intentional, and also doesn’t have any expulsions. However, many Illegal Procedure penalties happen from an intentional action, such as intentional 4th minors by false starting. Other intentional IPs include removal of mouth guards or safety equipment, and illegally blocking a star pass. Considering the nature of Illegal Procedures, the rules have determined that intentionally committing one is not grounds for an Insubordination penalty.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

‎6.14 Insubordination Insubordination is willfully failing to comply with a referee’s orders. Examples of insubordination include but are not limited to failure to leave the track for a penalty or failure to leave the floor after fouling out.

Today I'm going to cover Insubordination. Unlike what many think, Insubordination is not a penalty a skater receives for mouthing off to a ref. That is a Misconduct. As the rule says, Insubordination is failing to comply with a referee's orders. Now, that's a pretty strong statement that pretty says "what the referee says goes". Effectively, that is the case. However, to have a good bout where refs and skaters mutually respect each other, there needs to be give and take on both sides.

I'll start with the referees. Yes referees must be listened to. That does not mean that referees should be ordering skaters around outside the bounds of the rules. Insubordination is included in the rules to penalize skaters who don't go to the penalty box when told, and other such instances where the rules require a skater to follow the directions of a ref. It is important to note that skaters who follow the rules expect the referees to do the same. I have heard of situations where skaters received Insubordination penalties when a referee made a blatant mistake in calling her name. There is a reason why the rules require a referee to refer to a skater by her color and number. Skater names are usually plays on words, or may be in a different language, or require a proper pronunciation, etc. They are not standard. Colors and numbers are, especially if Section 3.7 is strictly adhered to. So skaters train themselves to hear their color and number combination, and to only leave the track when called by that combination. If a referee decides to break from the rules and refer to a skater a different way, such as calling her by her derby name, or even improperly calling her number, that skater is going to not leave the track, and is not going to expect an Insubordination for it. With regards to improperly calling numbers, I have covered all the rules regarding numbers and have made it clear that while no standard exists for how to call a skater’s number, the number must be called. So if a referee is trying to issue a penalty to a skater with the number “L0V3” and calls her “love”, and she doesn’t leave the track, that referee should work on complying with the rules rather than issuing that skater an Insubordination penalty. Further, there have been other cases I have heard of where referees have given Insubordination penalties to skaters other than the Captain or DA who speak to the referees. This is not something that exists in the rules, although the common convention is to discourage non-Captains from talking to the referees. Referees need to make sure that the orders they give that they expect to be complied with are based in the rules and not an overstep of bounds.

Skaters can help by simply not getting Insubordination penalties. I know this sounds simple, and it is. If a referee issues a skater a major, she needs to leave the track, regardless of her thoughts towards the penalty’s validity. I am a ref, but I also play. I know firsthand the frustration of receiving a major penalty for something that I know to be perfectly legal. However, the moment of receiving a major penalty is not the time to argue with the referee. When a skater refuses to go to the penalty box she requires that referee to continue watching her to make sure she eventually goes, meaning that referee’s attention is now fixated on one skater rather than the pack, which means less effective officiating. Following the referees orders helps even when its not a situation where one expects such an order to be given. Here’s an example. I head reffed a bout last season where skaters, at the end of jams, would cut through the infield to return to their bench. The NSOs in the infield kept reporting to me that they were almost run over or into several times by skaters. At half time I mentioned to the captains that safety was becoming an issue in the infield, and to ask both teams to not cut through the infield. Soon after the second half began the cutting through continued. I called an Official Timeout and told both captains that because safety of the NSOs was in jeopardy, that any skater from then on to cut through the infield would receive an Insubordination. Sure enough, one skater cut through the infield and was promptly issued a major penalty. Although there is no rule preventing skaters from cutting through, as head ref I felt that the cutting through was risking the safety of the NSOs, and 9.2.5 clearly explains that “Safety is the number one priority for Referees”.

By working to together to follow the rules, skaters and refs can help make sure that Insubordination penalties are kept to an absolute minimum.

Friday, February 3, 2012

6.3.11 Intentional tripping with feet or hands.

Today’s rule is the first in the Low Blocking expulsion section. The rules discuss Low Block expulsions:

“The following egregious acts will be automatic game expulsions, and can be punished as a multi-game suspension (see Section Expulsions will be issued for a conscious attempt to trip an opponent, whether or not the action was successful.”

Intentional tripping is a serious safety issue. Tripped skaters can be hurt badly if they fall wrong, no matter how experienced they are. It is one thing for a skater to be tripped accidentally. But a skater tripping another intentionally is certainly an action worthy of expulsion, and possibly even suspension, depending on the egregiousness of the intentional trip.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

6.3.9 A skater who habitually, three or more times during the course of a bout, falls in front of opponents, causing them to lose relative position, even if she “falls small.” The intent is to penalize a skater who repeatedly falls because she is a danger to her opponents. A single skater who repeatedly trips other skaters, even when “falling small” is adversely affecting game play and safety.

Like yesterday’s rule, today’s rule penalizes an action that is otherwise legal. A skater who has fallen small is not to be penalized if she trips an opponent. However, if a skater habitually falls small in front of opponents then the rules considers that skater to be a safety risk to her opponents. It is because of this rule that it appears sometimes that a referee has penalized a skater for a Low Block even though she has fallen small.

Much like I mentioned yesterday, because this rule penalizes an action that is otherwise legal, as a head ref if a skater were to be penalized by this rule I would most likely mention to their captain what happened. I say this because if a skater is enough of a risk to safety that they receive a penalty even though they seem to have not committed an illegal action, their captain can speak to the skater and they may skate safer for the duration of the bout. This is certainly not a rules based suggestion, nor is it from any published set of standard practices. It is just what I would most likely do as a head referee.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

6.3.8 Habitual contact, three or more times during the course of a bout, between skates and wheels that is part of the normal skating motion that causes an opposing skater to stumble or fall or lose her relative position. The intent is to penalize skaters whose normal skating motion is dangerous to her opponents. A single skater who repeatedly trips other skaters, even with her normal skating motion is adversely affecting game play and safety.

Today’s rule penalizes normal skating motion that is unsafe to other skaters. While incidental contact between skaters’ skates and wheels is not a penalty if it happens during normal skating motion, if one skater habitually trips opponents due to their normal skating motion, then the rules deems their normal skating motion to be unsafe, and adversely affecting game play. This is a major Low Block penalty.

Now, this isn’t in the rules, and some may disagree with this, but if a skater were to be penalized by this rule, I would most likely call an Official Timeout and explain to that skater’s captain why she was penalized. After all, if the penalized skater is affecting game play and safety then she should be made aware of it so she can change her skating motion to prevent further unsafe actions. Again, this is a personal suggestion, and by no means anything official.