Monday, March 25, 2013

7.1.3 If an Illegal Procedure gives an unfair advantage, the referee will assess a penalty and may stop the jam if the offending team fails to yield the advantage immediately.

Today's rule comes from the Major Penalties section. Illegal Procedure penalties are defined as "Technical infractions that give the offending team an advantage but do not necessarily impact a specific opponent." If a skater or team is guilty of an Illegal Procedure, they will be issued a major penalty for the infraction. However, there are times when the team fails to yield the advantage immediately, in which case the jam may be stopped. This rule hasn't much relevancy, though, since the Illegal Procedure penalties that would pertain to this rule actually explain to issue the penalty after the jam has already been stopped, such as causing the jam to be called off for too many blockers on the track, or a jammer who is not lead successfully calling off the jam. As well, it seems as if a skater were performing an action deemed to be an Illegal Procedure, was issued a major penalty for it, and then failed to yield the advantage, they would be issued an Insubordination. However, even if it came to that point, this rule allows a referee to call off the jam so that the unfair advantage doesn't continue.

Friday, March 22, 2013

3.5.5 Jammer status is transferred when the pivot is wearing the helmet cover on their helmet with the stars visible.

Today's rule comes from the passing The Star section of the rules. This rule is largely the same from the previous version to the current one. However, another important rule has changed that has altered the effect of this rule. Rule 3.2.1 was revised so that a pivot must be wearing the pivot helmet cover to have the rights and privileges of a pivot. previously, a pivot that started a jam with the pivot helmet cover in their hand or on their helmet was always the pivot, for the rest of that jam, which meant that the pivot helmet cover didn't need to be on the pivot's head when they completed a star pass. Now, since a pivot without a helmet cover is ineligible to receive a star pass, as that ability is one of the rights and privileges of a pivot, to be able to complete a star pass a pivot must put the jammer helmet cover on top of their pivot helmet cover. If the pivot takes off the pivot helmet cover, they may not then put on the jammer helmet cover, and will receive an Illegal procedure penalty for doing so.

The part of this rule that has been revised is that the stars on the jammer helmet cover must be visible for the star pass to be considered complete. If the pivot puts on the jammer helmet cover inside out, and the stars are not visible that way, they will remain the pivot even with the jammer helmet cover on their head. Pivots need to know this because if they put the jammer helmet cover on without the stars visible, and then leave the engagement zone, they must still return to the engagement zone or be given a penalty for failure to return.

Something I have not always been sure of is what "on their helmet" has meant, whether the helmet cover was required to be affixed to the helmet, or simply on top of it. My personal interpretation would be that a helmet cover that is simply on top of a helmet isn't actually on the helmet, that the helmet cover must remain on the helmet after the pivot removes their hands. This is, of course, my own personal interpretation and not an official one by any means.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 If more than one jam is called off for the same skater, the skater must sit out of the remainder of the period.

Today's rule comes from the Injured Skaters part of the Safety section of the rules. It is an often overlooked rule, that luckily doesn't often require enforcement. While pretty much everyone knows that a skater who has had a jam called off for injury must sit for the next three jams. This rule explains that if a skater has a jam called for injury a second time, then they must sit for the remainder of the period. I can only assume this is to prevent a skater from becoming a safety risk, either to other skaters or to their own self.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

6.16.9 The excessive use of obscene, profane, or abusive language or gestures directed at an opposing skater, teammate, manager, coach, or other team support staff.

Today's rule is a Misconduct major penalty. Unlike obscene, profane, or abusive language or gestures directed at officials, mascots, announcers, audience members, or other bout production officials, a penalty is only issued to a skater if such language or gestures are directed excessively at at an opposing skater, teammate, manager, coach, or other team support staff. While it is understood that athletes engaged in full contact sports tend to have high emotions and high energy, the WFTDA rules make clear that there is no excuse to use obscene, profane, or abusive language or gestures towards officials, or those not directly involved in playing a bout. The rules seem to be understanding towards how teams act towards each other. Play gets heated, and skaters say thing to each other, that much is understood. However, there is a point at which it becomes excessive. Unfortunately, the term "excessive" isn't defined in the rules, which leaves it up to the discretion of referees. Certainly, if a skater hurls a swear word at a an opponent lands a big block on them, that's not excessive. If, however, the skater throws out a whole string of swear words, it will likely be considered excessive. If a skater gets blocked by an opponent and they reply by shouting "you're gonna pay for that!", it won't likely be considered excessive. However, if the skater replies by shouting "I'm gonna drag your f^&*ing ass out to the parking lot after this game and beat the living f^&* out of you!", well, that may be considered excessive.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

6.16.8 The use of obscene, profane, or abusive language or gestures directed at a mascot, announcer, audience member, or other bout production individuals.

Today's rule comes from the Misconduct section, and is a major penalty. This rule has been revised a bit from the previous version of the rules. In the previous version this rule penalized skaters for obscene, profane, or abusive language directed at an "official, mascot, and announcer". This caused many to question about other people that didn't fit into that category, such as photographers, track repair people, security, etc. Those people have now been address in the current version of the rules. While officials have been removed from this rule and moved to their own Insubordination rule, this rule now includes audience members and bout production individuals. Photographers, security personnel, and track repair people would now be consider "bout production individual". Yes, there are some who may argue that a photographer isn't necessary to produce a bout, and thus aren't included in this rule. That argument is weak, since the referees have the discretion to penalize using the rules as a guideline, and a photographer certainly falls into the same group as announcers, mascots, and bout production individuals. Interestingly, audience members have been added to this rule. This means that a skater may no longer shout back to spectators who may yell at them (not sure if it was happening before, but it certainly may not happen now). As well, an overzealous skater who, while trying to pump up the crowd, shouts "f&*( yeah!" at the audience and is overheard by a referee, will receive a penalty.

It must be noted that this rule is pretty specific, and doesn't allow an official to have a "thick skin". While a mascot, announcer, audience member, or bout production individual may not be personally offended by obscene, profane, or abusive language or gestures directed at them, if it happens, then a penalty must be issued. This rule is not contingent on feelings being hurt, or someone being offended. Common sense must be applied to determine just what is considered obscene, profane, or abusive, but it really shouldn't be that difficult to figure out.

Monday, March 11, 2013

6.14.3 The use of obscene, profane, or abusive language or gestures directed at an official.

Today's rule is an Insubordination major penalty. Previously, this rule included mascots and audience members, and existed in the Misconduct section. In the current version of the rules, this rule was put into the Insubordination section, while a similar rule that covers mascots and announcers still exists in the Misconduct section. Something important about this rule is that it is pretty straightforward, in a sense. If a skater uses obscene, profane, or abusive language directed at an official (referee or NSO), they will receive a major penalty. What doesn't factor into whether this penalty is issued is how the official reacts to it. Basically, if a referee has "thick skin", that should not be a reason to not penalize a skater. Even if an official is not personally insulted by the language or gesture, if it meets the definition of obscene, abusive, or profane, then a penalty should be issued. Certainly, the interpretation of obscene, profane, or abusive may vary among officials, however there is a certain point at which all officials are certainly on the same page. Words that are considered swear words (you know which they are) are certainly in the profane category. Use of language that refers to body parts by slang will typically be considered obscene. And of course, any threatening language will be considered abusive.

It must be noted that just using this language will not earn a skater a penalty. The illegal language or gestures must be directed at an official. So, if a skater looks a ref in the eye and says "that was %^&*ed up", they will receive a penalty. However, if the skater were to look at the floor and say the same thing, no penalty.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hips - The laterally projecting prominence of the pelvis or pelvic region from the waist to the thigh. The central point of this area determines a pass, regardless of the direction the skater is facing.

Today's rule comes from the Glossary. Prior to the previous version of the rules there wasn't a definition of what "hips" meant. Only that distances and passes were determined by the hips. The previous version brought a definition of "hips", albeit with strange language that could be interpreted differently by many people. Luckily, this definition was cleaned up for the current version of the rules. Hips is now the center point between the pelvic bones. Since it is a point, the direction a skater is facing makes no difference. Passes are made in the counterclockwise direction and distances are determined from point to point, perpendicular to the inside track boundary.

Monday, March 4, 2013

8.3.1 Pass opposing skaters’ hips while in bounds and upright, legally, without committing penalties.

This rule comes from the scoring section. 8.3 explains that a jammer begins scoring once they have ended their initial pass. This rule explains how a jammer scores points. This isn't the only way a jammer may score points, as there are exceptions to this rule. However, the largest majority of points a jammer scores will be per this rule. There's a few parts to this rule. First, the jammer must pass the opponents' hips. Previously, this was not the easiest thing to understand, thanks to some odd language in the rules. Thankfully, the language has been revised in this version of the rules, to remove confusion. The definition of hips is now much easier to understand. Secondly, to score a point, the jammer making the pass must be in bounds. In the past, some have erroneously interpreted this rule to mean the opponent being passed must be in bounds. That would be an illogical rule, since all an opponent would need to do is be out of bounds when the jammer passed and they wouldn't be scored on. The third part of this rule is new in this version of the rules. The jammer must be upright when making a pass, or else they won't score those points. Previously, a jammer could be down when passing, meaning that a jammer could risk a low block penalty, and dive past the legs of a wall of opposing blockers. Since a jammer can't be blocked while down, they were practically undefendable, and would be attempting a pass while down only at their own risk. Finally, the jammer must pass legally, without committing penalties. In previous versions of the rules, a jammer was able to earn a minor penalty while making a pass, and not earn a point for the pass, but not be sent to the penalty box. Since minor penalties no longer exist in the WFTDA rules, a jammer must pass without committing a penalty, as that will send them to the penalty box. If a penalty happens while a pass is being made, the jammer will be sent to the penalty box without having scored a point for that pass. All of the above part of this rule must happen, or else the jammer will not score a point for that pass.

As I mentioned above, there are exceecptions to this rule. The most notable are Not On The Track points. As well, there are points earned for skaters who are out of play ahead of the engagement zone, both before and after the jam ends. Both exceptions have been covered, and are available on the Roller Derby Rule of the Day archive at