Thursday, May 31, 2012

10.2.1 The home team must provide at least two licensed or certified medical professionals with expertise in emergency and urgent medical care. These medical professionals will supply the necessary equipment and supplies to handle such injuries or conditions as can be reasonably expected to occur at a roller derby bout. The medical professionals will be present during the entire warm up and game.

I’m sure everyone knows that medics are present at every bout they skate in. What I’m curious about is how many people knew that was spelled out in the rules. Considering that part of the main focus of the rules is safety, it makes sense that this rule exists. It does not require the medical professionals to be doctors, EMTs, sports trainers, or any other such position. So long as the personnel are licensed or certified medical professionals, then they meet the requirements of the rules. Sometimes a league may bout in a venue or hold insurance that requires more specific medical personnel. That is something to be dealt with as each situation arises. However, any medical personnel required by a venue contract or insurance policy must be licensed or certified to meet the requirements of the rules. All the medical personnel must be present during the game, per this rule. That means if a skater is injured, and one of the medical professionals is tending to them in a hallway, concourse, outside, or any other part of a venue that isn’t on or near the track, the game must wait until they return. An EMT in the hallway of an arena is not an EMT present during a game. Medical professionals need to respond to any accidents that occur on the track. That is why sometimes during bouts where an injury occurs, there may be a lengthy Official Timeout before play may continue, while the referees wait for the missing medical professional(s) to return. Interestingly, this rule also requires the medical professionals to present during the entire warm up. I find this part interesting because the rules only reach outside of the confines of regulation play (from the first whistle of the game to the last). I find this odd, because the rules are to be enforced by the referees. However, referees may not even be present during a team’s warm up, and therefore it is difficult for referees to enforce this part of the rule. That being said, it is a rule, and leagues should be ensuring that medical professionals are present during team warm ups.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 A team refuses to field skaters on the track to continue play.

Today’s rule is the second subrule of, which explains when a head referee may call a forfeit. It is the second of only two subrules, the first having been covered yesterday. This rule is the one most commonly referred to during discussions of a team failing to field any Blockers on the track at the start of a jam. This is a situation that many people have asked about, but has no direct penalty enumerated in the rules. Even if a team fields just a Jammer in a jam, they are required to field at least one Blocker so that a pack may exist, per In order to form a pack, a team must have at least one Blocker on the track at all times. If at least one Blocker is not on the track from both teams, then play may not continue. Another requirement to play is that there exists at least one Jammer in the jam, since 7.4 includes several different rules that direct the referees to call off the jam if both Jammers are off the track, except in very specific situations. If the presence of Jammers on the track or in the penalty box meets the exception scenarios in 7.4, then play may continue. Otherwise, the absence of at least one Jammer would mean that play may not continue. At the point where play may not continue, and a jam is forced to be called off due to the absence of the required skaters to allow play to continue, today’s rule may come into play. There are actually various approaches I have seen discussed regarding this situation, so for posterity I will mention them all, and then explain which I prefer, and why. Every approach begins with the jam being started, and then immediately being called off, due to the lack of the minimum required skaters to continue play. They also all end with a warning that a forfeit may be called should the team fail to field enough skaters to continue play again. 1) Because the jam was forced to be called off, issue the active Pivot a major penalty (or the captain in the absence of an active Pivot), similar to issuing a penalty when a jam is called due to being unable to remove an extra skater. 2) Since the jam was called, and another 30 seconds must elapse before the next jam may start, take a timeout from the offending team, as they have effectively forced an extra timeout without penalty. 3) After the jam is called, call an official timeout, issue the forfeit warning, then start the next jam promptly. While many may feel as if approach 1 and/or 2 seem an appropriate response to the action, the rules actually don’t support either. In approach 1, a major is issued, however there is no penalty enumerated for this particular situation, thus one can’t be made up on the spot. Regarding approach 2, the rules are very clear about how a team takes a timeout, and when they may do so. If the referees stop a jam because of inability to continue play, that is different than a team calling a timeout with the required hand signal, by the required personnel (the captain or designated alternate), or at the allowed time (between jams). My personal preference is approach 3. Although it seems as if the offending team is going unpenalized, that is because they effectively are. The rules do not have a penalty or really a rule to penalize or disadvantage a team that has caused a jam to be called off due to inability to continue play. However, as soon as the jam is called, as head referee, I would go straight to the captain and/or designated alternate for that team and explain that any further failure to field enough skaters to continue play would be considered their refusal, and I would then call a forfeit. This approach may not seem “right” to some people, but it is supported by the rules, and the rules are what govern us. If anyone else has another approach that I didn’t mention, I would like to hear what it is. After all, because this situation isn’t addressed by the rules, there may not be one appropriate approach to deal with the situation.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 A team has five or fewer un-injured rostered skaters remaining due to expulsions.

Today’s rule is the first subrule of, which explains when the head referee may call a forfeit. In the situation presented in this rule, the assumption is that a team has started a game with at least six skaters, and have had their team whittled down to five or less due to skaters being expelled. Contrary to how some first look at this rule, it does not apply to team who have lost skaters due to injury. It deals specifically with loss of skaters from a team due to expulsion. While I can only conjecture, I believe that this rule was created as a safety measure. If a team has lost enough skaters to have five or fewer left on their bench due to expulsion, that generally means that team is skating unsafe enough to receive that many expulsions. Certainly, this conjecture relies on the assumption that a team has started with 14 skaters and that the expelled skaters were penalized for major safety violations rather than other violations, such as Insubordination or Gross Misconduct for inappropriate language directed at the wrong place. Certainly, a team may begin with seven skaters, and two may be expelled for excessively cursing at officials or fans, but my assumption is a safe starting point. If a team is losing many skaters due to safety concerns, it makes sense that the rules would include a threshold at which the head referee is given the authority to call a forfeit to prevent further expulsion-worthy safety violations. Now, since there is the possibility for scenarios other than my assumed “typical” scenario, it seems that is why this rule is included in the “may call a forfeit” section and not the “must call a forfeit” section. The decision to call a forfeit would rest with the head referee. If the head ref feels that the team with five or fewer skaters left due to expulsions has presented a safety risk, the decision to call a forfeit for that team is justified by the rules. If they decide not to call a forfeit, for whatever reason, then that decision is also justified by the rules.

Thursday, May 24, 2012 The Head Referee may call a forfeit for the following reasons:

Today's rule comes from section 9.2.7 Declaring a Forfeit. This rule has two subrules that explain when the head referee may call a forfeit. Note that this says "may", which means that they don't have to. A different rule says "must". I will cover the two subrules as the next two Rules of the Day.

Monday, May 14, 2012 Any skater who re-enters the Engagement Zone in an illegal manner, such as lapping the pack or allowing the pack to lap her after a fall, is subject to penalties (see Section 6.10.15 and Section 6.10.16).

Following in the wake of last week’s rules about reentering the engagement zone legally, today’s rule explains what I have already mentioned a few times in the explanations last week, that any skater who reenters the engagement illegally will be penalized appropriately. 6.10.15 is a penalty for a skater who leaves the engagement zone from the rear and reenters from the front, having been lapped by the pack. 6.10.16 is a penalty for a skater who leaves the engagement zone from the front and reenters from the rear, having lapped the pack. Both of these penalties are minor Out Of Play penalties.

Friday, May 11, 2012 To regain position in the pack after having fallen behind or recovering from a fall, a skater must catch up to the back of the pack by skating within the track boundaries to be considered back in play.

Just like yesterday, today’s rule is a subrule of, which requires out of play skaters to reenter the engagement zone the opposite way she left. It was asked on Wednesday how that can be, since a skater who leaves from the front of the engagement zone must return to the front of the engagement zone. This rule makes it a little more clear. If a player goes out of play by slowing down (which would be behind the engagement zone) then the opposite of slowing down is sprinting, which is how she must reenter the engagement zone.

Thursday, May 10, 2012 If the player sprinted forward of the Engagement Zone, she must drop back to be considered in play.

Today’s rule is subrule of, which requires out of play skaters to reenter the engagement zone the opposite way she left. It was asked yesterday how that can be, since a skater who leaves from the front of the engagement zone must return to the engagement zone. This rule makes it a little more clear. If a player goes out of play by sprinting (which would be forward ahead of the engagement zone) then the opposite of sprinting is slowing down and possibly stopping, which is how she must reenter the engagement zone.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 A skater who is out of play must re-enter the Engagement Zone in the opposite way she left.

Today’s rule is really pretty simple. It even has two subrules that make it even more simple to understand. I almost feel like posting the two subrules would be a waste of time, but I may just post them anyway, as they are rules after all. The idea here is that if you skate ahead of the pack and leave the engagement zone from the front, you must reenter the engagement zone from the front. If you drop back and leave the engagement zone from the rear, you must reenter the engagement zone from the rear. While this rule is easy to understand, in its application, its existence is important in a way that some people may not consider. If a skater didn’t have to reenter the engagement zone from the way they left, they would be able to just skate around the track anytime they wanted to, completely lapping the pack. This sets up the possibility for a Blocker being passed by a Jammer at the front of the pack, then following the Jammer all the way around to the back of the pack and stopping there. The Jammer would then pass through the pack, but only pass the other three Blockers on that team, as the Blocker that followed the Jammer was behind her the whole time and not passed on that scoring pass. That would be a way for a Blocker to prevent a point for the opposing team by doing pretty much nothing. There are many rules in place to prevent just such an incident from happening, such as the Not On The Track points rules. This is one such rule, that prevents Blockers from preventing being scored on without having to physically stop the Jammer from passing them. If a Blocker reenters the pack from the opposite direction than she left, she will be given a penalty. 6.10.14 A Blocker re-entering the pack from behind, having lapped the pack. A penalty must be applied to each offending Blocker (see Section 4.3.3). 6.10.15 A Blocker re-entering the pack from the front, having fallen behind the pack. A penalty must be applied to each offending Blocker (see Section 4.3.3 and Section 8.3 and Section 8.4). Although there are penalties for such an action, skaters who have left the engagement zone must immediately attempt to reenter or else be given a minor Out Of Play penalty, followed by a major for sustained failure to reenter the engagement zone. If a skater has fallen behind the pack and is attempting to skate forward, but is just slow enough that she gets lapped by the pack, she would receive only the minor Out Of Play penalty outlined in 6.10.15. If a skater skates ahead of the engagement zone, to attempt to reenter she must slow down, and possibly eventually stop. If she continues to skate forward then that would be a sustained failure to reenter, and she should be given a major Out Of Play penalty before she has a chance to reenter the engagement zone from the rear. However, for whatever reason, if she is not given an Out Of Play major, and she makes it all the around the track and reenters the engagement zone from the rear, having left it from the front, then she would be given a minor OOP penalty as outlined in 6.10.14.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 A skater who is more than twenty (20) feet in front of or behind the pack may receive an out of play warning by a referee; however, a referee is not required to issue a warning prior to giving a penalty. Once out of play, a skater must yield the right of way to the opposing Jammer by physically moving out of the Jammer’s path. Any engagement, including passive/positional blocking, can result in a penalty (see Section 6.10 Out of Play Penalties).

Today’s rule was alluded to in the explanation of yesterday’s rule. If a skater is outside of the engagement zone she must speed up or slow down to re-enter the engagement zone, as she is out of play. Once she is out of play, she may be penalized if she doesn’t immediately attempt to re-enter the engagement zone. In most cases, skaters who are out of play may be given a warning by the referees, which is a hand signal accompanied by an “out of play” verbal cue. This warning is highly recommended for referees to issue, however it is expressly not required for them to give before issuing a penalty. In cases where a skater leaves the engagement zone and does not contact an opponent, or assist a teammate, a referees is very likely to give a warning before issuing an Out Of Play penalty. However, in cases where a skater goes out of play and performs an illegal out of play action, a referee may choose to issue a penalty without a warning first. The reason why warnings are optional is because being out of play is illegal, regardless of whether a referee gives a warning or not. So, if a skater commits an out of play action that has major impact, such as hitting a Jammer out of bounds while out of play, then it is very difficult to justify not issuing a penalty just because a referee hadn’t given a warning first. Thus, penalties take precedence over warnings, but referees are trained to try and give warnings in all scenarios first, if possible. The latter part of this rule explains what a Blocker must do, and may not do, while out of play. Once a skater is out of play she may not engage in any way, as she is not in the engagement zone. If an out of play skater is in front of the opposing Jammer, she must yield the right of way to her, or else she may be issued an Out Of Play penalty. Contrary to common practice, throwing one’s hands up in the air does not constitute yielding to the opposing Jammer. The Blocker must make a physical effort to yield the right of way. In most cases, this requires the skater to step to the side to let the Jammer through. Something that has been asked of me several times before is, “what if the out of play skater steps to the side and is in the way of the opposing Jammer who is also stepping to the side?”. Unfortunately, the answer to this is not particularly straightforward, so what I personally have gone by is that if the skater who steps into the way of the Jammer appears to be doing so intentionally, I would issue her an Out Of Play penalty. If she appears to legitimately be doing so to get out of the way of the Jammer behind her, then I would assume legal intent, as instructed by the rules (9.3.3). Just as there is a difference between immediately attempting to re-enter the engagement zone or reform a pack, and pretending to re-enter or reform, there is also a difference between yielding right of way and pretending to yield right of way. Much like a lot of actions that may happen in a game, this is one of those judgment calls that referees learn to make properly. The last part of the rules explains that any engagement while out of play will earn a skater an Out Of Play penalty. Engagement includes initiating contact, as well as positional blocking. If a skater is out of play and impeding another skater from in front, she is performing an illegal out of play positional block. Out Of Play penalties are issued based on impact. What must be mentioned is that while this rule references a “skater” being out of play, it mainly refers to Blockers, since Jammers are not considered out of play when they are out of the engagement zone. That being said, if a Blocker is out of play, they may not be engaged by a Jammer. So, if a Blocker is out of play and does not yield the right of way to the opposing Jammer, the Jammer may not engage the Blocker in her way.

Monday, May 7, 2012

4.3.3 Blockers who are out of play must slow or speed up to re-enter the Engagement Zone.

Blockers who are out of the Engagement Zone are, by definition, out of play. Being outside the engagement zone means being on the track, more than 20 feet from the nearest pack skater. There’s been plenty rules covering what the pack is, which can be found on the Rule of the Day archive, so I won’t cover that here. If a skater is out of play outside the engagement zone, she must return to play immediately, either by speeding up if they are behind the pack, or slowing down if they are in front of it. If they do not do so, they may be given a penalty by the referees, which may or may not be preceded by a verbal “out of play” warning accompanied by a hand signal. The penalty a skater would be given is an Out Of Play penalty, but the referee would use the appropriate verbal cue of “failure to re-enter” which explains that the penalty is for the skater failing to immediately attempt to re-enter the engagement zone. Warnings are optional, and may not necessarily be relied upon. Skaters need to know what 20 feet from the pack looks like just as much as referees, and be responsible for their own position in and out of the engagement zone. Of course, Out Of Play penalties being issued before warnings tend to happen mostly when an out of play block is made. Penalties for failure to re-enter will likely come after a warning.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012 When no single skater or team can be clearly found responsible for illegally destroying the pack, no penalty for illegally destroying the pack shall be enforced, however skaters and teams are still responsible for immediately reforming a pack (see Section 6.10.7, Section 6.10.12, and Section 6.10.20).

Following up all the rules that explain when to issue illegal destruction of the pack penalties (and the exceptions), today’s rule explains that when a penalty for illegal destruction should be issued, but no single skater can be found clearly responsible, no penalty will be given. What the rules mean by single skater is that it must be absolutely clear that one person destroyed the pack. If two skaters are hitting the brakes at the same time and the pack is destroyed, and the referees are unsure which of them was actually responsible for the destruction, no penalty is issued. If one team is racing forward, while the other team is slowing down quickly, and the pack is destroyed, no penalty is given. Illegal destruction Out Of Play penalties may only be given to one skater, not multiple skaters. Again, the rules remind that both teams are responsible for reforming the pack, and both teams can be issued failure to reform Out Of Play penalties if both don’t immediately attempt to reform the pack.