Wednesday, December 19, 2012

6.15 DELAY OF GAME Delay of Game penalties will be given for actions which interfere with the standard progression of the game.

Today's rule is the main paragraph of the Delay of Game penalties section. This section is brand new in the most recent version of the rules. It was created to address some issues where a skater or team's actions could result in a delay of the game, but was not previously met with any sort of consequence. An example of this is a team that fails to have any blockers on the track at the jam-starting whistle. Previously, there was no conclusive way to handle that situation, nor any enumerated consequence, even though rule clearly states that "a team must have at least one Blocker on the track at all times". This situation is now covered by the Delay of Game section. Over the next few days I will cover the three penalties in this section, including the one for failure to field blockers for a jam.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

6.13.16 A skater exiting the penalty box and reentering the track in front of one opposing pack skater.

Today’s rule is an Illegal Procedure major penalty. This is a new rule in the most recent version of the rules. Previously, returning from the penalty box in front of one skater - teammate or opponent - was a minor penalty. Since minors no longer exist, this rule has been added to reflect the new way that the rules regard reentering the track illegally. This rule has the same consequence as the similar rule from the Cutting the Track section.

It must be noted that this rule penalizes exiting the penalty box and reentering the track in front of one pack skater, not one in play skater, as is the case in the Cutting rule. If a skater is in play, but not part of the pack, there will be no penalty if an opponent reenters the track from the penalty box in front of them. As well, if there is no pack when the skater reenters the track, then there are no pack skaters, thus no penalty for reentering in front of any skaters.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 Having the helmet cover removed by a teammate.

Today's rule comes from the Lead Jammer section. It is a subrule of 3.4.7 which explains that the jammer that has been declared Lead Jammer will remain Lead Jammer until their status is forfeited. The following three subrules, of which this is one, explain how the lead jammer status is forfeited. This rule is new, as the previous version of the rules only included two ways to forfeit lead status: a jammer removing their helmet cover, and being removed from play due to a penalty. It was a common interpretation that a teammate removing the jammer's helmet cover would forfeit the jammer's lead status, even though it wasn't actually written into the rules. Rather than rely on common interpretations, regardless of the position, the rules now state that a teammate removing their jammer's helmet cover forfeit's that jammer's lead status.

3.4.6 still allows for a jammer to regain lead jammer status if an opponent's action removes the helmet cover.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Established Position - Where a skater is physically, an area of the track where the skater has secured their place. Examples: up, in bounds, down, out of bounds, in play, and/or out of play.

Today's rule is the Glossary definition of "Established Position". I decided it was important to discuss this phrase, as it plays an important role in several rules. Established position is something that has existed in the rules for some time. Up until the previous rule set, this phrase was only used in the Back Blocking section, but was then added to Direction of Gameplay and Out Of Play rules. However, there was no explanation of what established position meant. Instead, the derby community was left to common interpretations. Thankfully, this Glossary entry was added in this rules version, and makes very clear and official just what established position means.

At first look, it appears as if established position is very similar to relative position, and that's because they are similar. They both involve a skater's position on the track, with relation to other skater, in/out of bounds, in/out of play, etc. The major difference is that established position specifically notes that "the skater has secured their place". Relative position does not include this qualifier. That means a skater must have secured their place on a track for their position to be considered established. If they have not secured their place, and are forced out of position, it may be considered just a loss of relative position, not of established position. Although "secured their place" is not defined in the rules (of course, not everything can be), it helps us understand the difference between established and no established. A quick movement from one area of the track to another does not establish a skater's position. Simply being on a new area of the track does not secure a skater's place. They need to be on that area of the track long enough to not be considered there only temporarily. As well, even if they are on that area of the track long enough to not be considered temporarily, if they have not maintained balance on that area of the track, they may not have secured their place. For example, if a skater is skating along the outside track boundary and then cuts to skate towards the inside boundary, they will not have established any position in the middle of the track, even though they skated over it. To secure their place along the inside boundary, they would need to be there for a period of time and have balance there. There is not set period of time, and judgment will be used by referees to determine it. It is important to understand how established position has an effect on certain rules within the rule book.

For starters, the Back Blocking section has long used a loss of established position as part of the criteria for a major penalty, rather than a loss of relative position. This is because even though Back Blocking is a contact penalty, it is one that typically also requires an associated action - a block to the back. In other words, back blocking is not penalized merely for contact to an opponent's back. The skater being penalized must have initiated the illegal contact to the opponent's back. Established position comes into play because the back is a legal blocking zone and may be used to initiate a block to an opponent behind a skater. Now, if a skater is ahead of an opponent and leans back to initiate a block, and the opponent counterblocks into the initiator's back, knocking the initiator down, that will likely be a major penalty. To be able to lean back and initiate, the initiator would have had to have established a position in front of the opponent. Now, if a skater is skating forwards and an opponent swoops in from the side, and the skater ends up contacting the opponent in the back, knocking them down, this will not be considered a loss of established position. The swooping skater would not have had time to secure their place on the track. Regardless of who might be considered the initiator (considered a counterblock to the back is illegal anyway), this would not be a loss of established position, which is what is called out in rule 6.1.2. Effectively, what this does is prevent skaters from diving out in front of opponent's to try and draw a Back Blocking penalty.

The same logic applies to both Direction of Gameplay and Out Of Play penalties. With regards to Direction of Gameplay, if a skater is skating clockwise on the track, attempting to not initiate contact with any opponents, established position prevents an opponent from diving in front of the clockwise skating skater to draw a clockwise block major. It is the same with Out Of Play. If a skater is out of play, established position prevents an opponent from jumping out right in front (or behind) the skater to draw an Out Of Play major. Established position is also used to determine the legality of mid-air contact, preventing a skater from jumping in front of an airborne opponent to draw a Misconduct major. You can see the common theme here. Established position helps prevent skaters from drawing penalties on helpless opponents for contact that involves an action, when the initiator is not control of the action of the receiver.

I apologize for the length of this particular explanation. It is an important concept and I didn't want to skimp on words.

(While I am confident in the entire explanation above, I have noticed that, while established position is part of the criteria for a clockwise block major per rule 6.9.19, it is not included in rule 6.9.15, which is also a major penalty that was previously a minor. Therefore, it appears as if a skater may be able to unfairly draw a major Direction of Gameplay penalty even without having established position on the track. I have reported this as an issue to the WFTDA.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

6.13.8 More than one designated Pivot for a team on the track after the jam-starting whistle. The skater at fault is the Pivot who was the last Pivot to enter the track in that jam. If the referee is unable to determine the last Pivot to enter the track, the referee handling the Illegal Procedure must single out the Pivot on the track closest to the referee who calls the penalty. After the whistle, the referee must instruct that skater to return to the bench if that skater is an extra skater on the track (see Section 6.13.7) or remove the helmet cover if that skater is an extra Pivot, but the team otherwise has the correct number of Blockers. Any Pivot starting in the penalty box is the designated Pivot for that jam.

Today’s rule is from the No Impact/No Penalty part of the Illegal Procedures penalties. It is a rule that has existed for a while, however has been modified slightly in this version. Effectively, it says that having an extra pivot on the track when the jam starts is not in and of itself a penalty. The extra pivot has an opportunity to correct the situation and avoid a penalty. If there is more than one pivot, the extra pivot(s) will be instructed to remove their pivot helmet cover. If they do so, they will avoid penalty for being an extra pivot. To determine which is the extra pivot, the referee issuing the instruction to remove the helmet cover must determine the last pivot to enter the track. If there is already a pivot sitting in the penalty box, they are considered the active pivot for that jam, and thus any subsequent pivot in that jam will be considered extra. If more than one pivot is standing on the track without any in the penalty box, and the referee is unable to determine which was the last to enter the track, they must issue the instruction to the pivot nearest them. Some people have remarked that this is an odd instruction for the referees. Frankly, I see it as logical as it is clear and unambiguous. If a referee recognizes that there are too many pivots, but can’t remember which one entered the track left, rather than decide which one to pick (a decision which may be challenged by either team, potentially on grounds of bias), they just pick the closest one to them. Easy peasy.

To continue to avoid penalty, the extra pivot who has been instructed to remove the helmet cover must do so. If they fail to comply with the referee’s instruction to remove the helmet cover, they will be penalized. Oddly, there is no Illegal Procedure penalty for continuing to be an extra pivot. Thus, it would seem appropriate for the skater failing to comply with the referee’s instruction to receive an Insubordination penalty, or possibly an Illegal Procedure for improper uniform (6.13.24). With regards to Insubordination, there is no specific penalty enumerated for ignoring a referee. However, the first paragraph of the Insubordination section explains that “Insubordination penalties will be given for actions which demonstrate a disregard for the authority of the referees and officials, whether intentional or not.” This is a change from the previous language which defined Insubordination as “willfully failing to comply with a referee’s orders”, certainly an easier action to explain and penalize. If a referee is not willing to issue an Insubordination penalty to an extra pivot that refuses, or fails, to remove their pivot helmet cover, another option of a penalty to issue is an improper uniform Illegal Procedure. Certainly, a helmet cover is not part of a uniform. However, since the extra pivot is not, in fact, a pivot, that would mean they are a non-pivot blocker. Rule 3.1.3 says that non-pivot blockers don’t wear helmet covers. While it is a slight bit of a stretch, it seems appropriate. Regardless of exactly which penalty is issued, an extra pivot that refuses to remove their helmet cover when instructed to do so must be penalized.

This rule mentions that if the extra pivot is an extra skater in the jam, they must be sent off the track, per 6.13.7. This means that if there are five blockers on the track from one team, and two of them are pivots, the extra pivot will be signaled to return to their bench without being issued a penalty, if they leave the track. If they refuse to leave the track, and the jam must be stopped as a result, and that skater’s team will be issued an Illegal Procedure penalty, which will go to the actual pivot in that jam, not the extra pivot.

This rule wasn’t changed drastically from the previous version of the rules, as far as the language goes. What has changed is how the action is handled. Although the language is similar, it had become widely instructed that even if the extra pivot was not an extra skater on the track, they were to be sent back to their bench anyway. This was strange, since the rule said otherwise. Now, the rule has been written to be more clear, and specifically allows the extra pivot to remain on the track, so long as their team does not have too many skaters on the track, and provided they remove the pivot helmet cover when instructed to do so.

Friday, December 7, 2012

6.3.7 Any contact outside of the normal skating motion initiated with a part of the body below the legal blocking zone that causes an opposing skater to fall or lose relative position.

Today’s rule comes from the Low Blocking penalties section. It is a major penalty. This rule is new in this version of the rules. Although the feet and legs from below the mid-thigh have always been an illegal blocking zone, the only rule that covered contact from that illegal blocking zone was specific to contact between skates and wheels that was outside of the normal skating motion. Even if a skater were to make illegal contact with the illegal blocking zone below the mid-thigh to a legal target zone, there wasn’t a penalty to address it. Now there is. If a skater initiates a block using the illegal blocking zone below the mid-thigh (which is below the legal blocking zone), and it causes an opposing skater to lose relative position, the initiator will receive a major penalty.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 A skater who is engaged in a block who then comes to a stop for any reason must cease all engagement until there is another legal opportunity to engage.

Today’s rule comes from the Direction of Gameplay penalties section. It is a No Impact/No Penalty rule. In the previous rule set, if a skater was blocking an opponent and came to a complete stop, they were given a minor penalty. Since there are no minors in the current rule set, this action has been deemed no impact. It is important to note that for this action to be no penalty, the blocking skater who has come to a complete stop must immediately cease all engagement or begin moving counterclockwise again. If they continue to engage while stopped completely, they will be penalized.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 Numbers may be placed on the helmet in addition to the arm/sleeve. Numbers on helmet must match roster numbers.

Today’s rule comes from the Uniforms section. It explains an option skaters have, which is to put their skater number on their helmet. This rule was changed from the previous version, to add that if a skater puts their number on their helmet, it must match the number that is on the roster, which is required to be on their back and on their arm or sleeve. This makes it easier for officials, as they won’t be confused by different numbers that appear on a skater. Although helmet numbers are not required, it can be confusing to a referee if, for example, they are looking above a skater’s shoulders calling a Blocking With The Head, and the number they see on the helmet is not that skater’s roster number.

This isn’t really a problem for the vast majority of skaters who put their number on their helmet, a trend growing in popularity worldwide. After all, most skaters will always wear their own skater number. This becomes an issue if a skater has to wear someone else’s helmet, jersey, or skater number, for some reason. For example, if a skater is skating in an invitational bout and have to use a different number than their own because of another skater on their team with the same number, they may need to wear a different helmet. Now, invitational bouts are not regulation or sanctioned, the two types of bout absolutely required to be played by exact word of the WFTDA rules. However, if a game is being played by the WFTDA rules, it is generally understood that it will follow the rules as if it is sanctioned or regulation. If a skater is in a situation where they are playing in a non-sanctioned or non-regulation bout and wants to wear a helmet with a different number than their roster number, they should seek approval prior to the bout from the head referee, and probably the opposing team, or else they will likely be asked to use a different helmet. Skaters in sanctioned and regulation bouts don’t have the option of seeking approval for a helmet with a number different than their roster number.